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Dates: August 14, 2009 - September 4, 2009
Location: Bocas Research Station, Bocas del Toro, Panamá


Juan M. Lopez-Bautista

Brian Wysor

Suzanne Fredericq

Wilson Freshwater

Rafael Riosmena-Rodriguez

Nadine Schubert

Guillermo Diaz-Pulido

Amy Driskell

Steven Paton

Erick Ask

Rachel Collin

Course description:

This is an NSF/DOE-funded, 3-week workshop for international graduate students, post-docs, and young investigators. The focus is on state-of-the-art methods and concepts for the study of macroalgae. Caribbean macroalage are rapidly increasing in profile and importance, as local anthropogenic impacts and climate change lead to decline of coral-dominated reefs and their replacement by algal-dominated habitats.

The PASI combines lectures, laboratory exercises, and fieldwork lead by a diversity of established experts and young professionals in one of the richest phycological floras of the Caribbean, Bocas del Toro, Panama. Lectures will cover recent advances in algal taxonomy and systematics, training in methods for DNA barcoding, modern imaging and bioinformatics approaches to curation of samples, and hot-topics lectures on photobiology and photosynthesis, terrestrial algae, chemical ecology, and human impacts on reef algae. Participants will give presentations about their own work and will have the chance to conduct a research project in collaboration with the experts or other participants.


Craig Aumack

University of Alabama at Birmingham
My name is Craig Aumack and my primary research interests include the chemical ecology of polar macroalgae. I am currently finishing up my PhD. at the University of Alabama at Birmingham working on chemical defenses against both herbivory and biofouling in macroalgae along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. A substantial portion of my research also includes the relationship between mesograzers and macroalgae along with endo/epiphytes and their macroalgal hosts and how those interactions are, at least in part, chemically mediated.

Kyle Glenn

San Jose State University
While almost anything phycological fascinates me, my main research interests lie in the selective pressures on programmed vs. responsive morphogenesis (especially kelps), causes and consequences of calcification in macroalgae (red and green), and biodiversity and taxonomy of seaweeds.

Eddie Parish

University of the Virgin Islands
My research deals primarily with trait mediated indirect interactions (TMIIs) between the keystone herbivorous sea urchin Diadema antillarum and its predators. Specifically I am interested in whether the presence of predators results in decreased grazing by D. antillarum. Previously I have studied whether D. antillarum display a feeding preference for common Caribbean macroalgae and whether the preference of algae affects the movement patterns of D. antillarum.

Anchana Prathep

Prince of Songkla University
My research interests are in diversity, distribution and biogeography of seaweed and seagrass. My background is in seaweed ecology, where I used Osmundea pinnatifida as a model organism, to look at population and community ecology. I have also picked up seagrass ecology recently and I would love to know more about biodiversity of seaweed and seagrass. The main research question is now to understand the distribution pattern and biogeography of seaweed and seagrass in the Peninsular Thailand and hopefully South East Asia (somedays). Also, I hope to build up a good knowledge and research of seaweed and seagrass of Thailand.

Lizette Irene Quan Young

Universidad de Antioquia
My research interest is on macroalgae ecology as interaction occurring in the reef, specially on coral-algae interactions. My master research was about interactions between some species of coral and algae at southern Mexican Caribbean reefs, describing those algae species ecologically interacting with Montastraea faveolata, Diploria strigosa, Acropora palmata and Millepora alcicorni, as well as finding specific interactions. In this research it was proposed the use of the area proportion of algal patches, for example, considering the area of D. strigosa as an index to rapidly evaluate ecosystem changes or coral deterioration. My thesis dissertation was on some biological parameters as a response to competition between coral and algae. Now, since I am in charge on some lectures at the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, I am very interested to continue working with coral-algae interactions in Colombian coasts. I hope to contribute on knowledge about reef ecosystem in order to have enough information that can be use to know what to do for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Dagoberto Venera

Universidad del Magdalena
I am a Colombian Biologist with a strong interest in the Roles of Benthic Algae in the Reef Degradation, particularly Coral-Algal Competition and the Roles of Reef Algae in Global Climate Change Scenarios. I have been working on these topics during the last five years, with the supervision of Dr. Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, in the Institute of Tropical Research at Universidad del Magdalena, Colombia, and the Centre for Marine Studies at University of Queensland, Australia. I am currently interested in the effects of Caribbean macroalgae on the recovery of bleached corals, and the effects of ocean acidification on the physiology of Caribbean calcareous algae.

Cindy Fernández G.

University of Costa Rica, PhD Candidate University of Baja California Sur
My research interests are the taxonomy and biogeography of Pacific and Caribbean macroalgae of Central America. Currently very interest in Eastern Pacific algae and algae invasions. I have worked in projects studying the biodiversity and ecology of algae in Costa Rica and an invasive alga (Caulerpa sertularioides) in Caño Island Marine Reserve and in Culebra Bay. Actually I am attending the University of Baja California Sur, México, to obtain my PhD degree in marine biology. My PhD project, titled “Taxonomy and phylogeography of Caulerpaceae, Dictyotaceae and Corallinales in Pacific of Central America”, aims to update the algae biodiversity of the region and to understand its distribution and relations with near areas such as Caribbean and the Pacific of Mexico.

Enrique Pena

Universidad del Valle
My research work focuses on understanding the effect of stress on the physiological and ecological responses of algae. Special interest on recognizing their responses caused by both, natural and anthropogenic stress type. During the recent years, I have worked on identifying tolerant and resistant mechanisms of algae to metal exposure, using physiological and ultraestructural indicators such as the fluorescence of chlorophyll a, CO2 fixation, photosynthesis and respiration rates, and bioaccumulation patterns on cell organelles. My laboratory is also active on studying the biodiversity of algal flora from intertidal and mangrove environments for using them as environmental indicators in tropical areas.

Daniela Milstein

University of New Brunswick
The focus of my research recently has been Rhodophyta biodiversity surveys using barcodes and taxonomy to assess cryptic diversity, to detect occurrence of invasive species and to discover new taxa. Furthermore, reconstruction of Rhodophyta phylogenies using both molecular and morphological information and studies involving phylogeography and biogeography to address questions of macroalgal speciation events are either subjects of my interest.

Rebecca Guenther

University of California Berkeley
I currently work at the University of California Berkeley and Jepson Herbaria as a curatorial assistant, in the curation of cryptogamic specimens that were transferred to the herbarium from Los Angeles County Museum. I will start my graduate degree in the fall to research physiological responses of coralline algae to changes in pH and temperature in order to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification.

Simona Augyte

Humboldt State University
My main interests are taxonomy and biogeography of intertidal marine algae and seagrasses. For my Master’s thesis at Humboldt State University, I am working on a floristic assessment of algae to be used as baseline data by conservation and management groups in northern California. Additionally, I would like to compare algal biodiversity of cold-temperate and tropical waters and foster global connections with fellow phycologists.

Elizabeth Lacey

Florida International University
I am currently an adjunct in the Marine Phycology Laboratory at Florida International University while I complete research for my doctoral degree. My interests are varied but center on marine ecosystem management and the coordination of science with real-life management issues. My current research focuses on interactions between corals, seagrass and algal communities in the Caribbean and enriching my understanding of phycology can better assist these research goals.

Ruben Cabrera

University of Havana
My work has been mostly focused on the ecology of Thalassia testudinum in sites subjected to anthropic stresses. In the case of marine algae I have dealt with flora studies in bays, reefs, and soft bottoms in the shelf of Cuba. There, I identified species from the three phyla. From a practical point of view I have used the biomass of algae as an indicator of ecologic importance and for a possible exploitation by the humans, e.g., genus Sargassum. In a more detailed study on the systematics I have covered several genera such as Sargassum, Avrainvillea, Penicillus and Udotea. I am currently working (proposal for a Ph.D) with the family Udoteaceae (Chlorophyta) together with the anatomical, morphological and molecular aspects to contrast with a hypothesis.

Neidy Cetz-Navarro

ECOSUR, Mexico
My main interest has been focused in knowing which macroalgae species are in contact with the declining cover of corals (with rising cover of macroalgae) in the Mexican Caribbean coral reefs. I am currently in the first year of my Ph.D. at ECOSUR, Mexico, with a thesis having an experimental approach, evaluating the responses of algae (manipulated) and corals (non-manipulated) when they are in contact.

Olga Tejada

Universidad de El Salvador
I am a teacher and researcher at the School of Biology of El Salvador University. Actually I work as curator of the reference collection of marine and estuarine algae, through which it has developed the research of macro algae in my country, also support research of colleagues national and from other countries. In recent years, my area of research has focused on the study of populations of algae associated with mangrove forests in their taxonomic and ecological aspect.

Rachel Kennison

University of California
I am a marine ecologist and my PhD research was focussed on the effects of anthropogenic nutrient supply and eutrophication on the estuaries of southern California and the loss of ecosystem function. After studying marine algae of southern California and teaching phycology, I am interested in expanding my knowledge of tropical systems and macroalgal species. My future research interests are in invasive species and the effect of climate change on biodiversity of marine algae.

Jasmine Ruvalcaba

Moss Landing Marine Labs
My interests in phycology include but are not limited to: recruitment of P. porra on rhodoliths, environmental factors on rhodoliths in estuaries, and algal chemical ecology. I plan to investigate these topics at Moss Landing Marine Labs and find one that will be suitable for a maters thesis. I haven't dove in tropical waters and am very excited to see what there is at lower latitudes.

Gabriela García Soto

La Universidad del Zulia
At first, I will say that I feel extremely attracted by the macroalgae taxonomy, it might say that it is my passion, nevertheless, other aspects, since the ecology of these organisms has been received by me them equally an interest, as well as the Phylogeny, its seems to me to be very important and a key factor to know of the origin and the evolutionary relations between the organisms, specially of the algae. Currently I'm completing my graduate studies to obtain a Masters Degree in Science on Aquatic Ecology and in spite of the fact that the biology of the macroalgae is not included in the main research areas, I managed to obtain a thesis related to macroalgae. My thesis treats about the taxonomic and spatial-temporal characterization of the macroalgae community at the western zone of Malecón Zapara, Zulia State, Venezuela, a very interesting area since the levee separates the zone in two different habitats with different wave energy. Also, I will study the relation between spatial and temporal variability of the community with variations in physicochemical parameters

Keri Goodman

Georgia Institute of Technology
I am studying anti-herbivore chemical defenses of marine and freshwater macroalgae at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am investigating how herbivore species richness and differential feeding preferences affect macroalgal communities. My two current projects include freshwater red algae and freshwater macroinvertebrates of the Southeastern United States and marine macroalgae and sea urchins in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

William Schmidt

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
William Schmidt is finishing his Ph.D. in red algal systematics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The focus of his taxonomic research is the order Rhodymeniales. He will start a postdoctoral fellowship at UL Lafayette to work on the systematics of crustose non-coralline red algae.

Haj Allali

University of Alabama
My name is Haj Allali, a PhD student at the University of Alabama. My interests are the systematics, biodiversity and phylogeography of algae from the tropics. My research is mainly focused on terrestrial and freshwater algae from Tropical Africa. I am currently looking at the biodiversity of these algae in this understudied environment using environmental sampling methods.