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Dates: June 20, 2015 - July 5, 2015
Location: Bocas Research Station, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin


Dr. Suzanne Fredericq

Dr. Wilson Freshwater

Course description:

This course is designed to orient participants to the biodiversity of tropical marine floras through field and laboratory work. Specifically, it will emphasize the development or enhancement of practical skills essential for identification, characterization and preservation of tropical marine macroalgae (seaweeds). Sampling forays in diverse environments (e.g., mangrove habitats, seagrass beds, coral reefs, sponge communities) on protected and exposed shorelines throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago will complement morphological and molecular investigations in the laboratory.

  • Morphological investigation will emphasize the preparation of specimens for microscopic examination and the interpretation of vegetative and reproductive structures in living material in the light of published observations from the primary literature. Participants will contribute to the development of the Bocas del Toro Biodiversity Inventory ( and the development of a bi-lingual field guide to the local marine flora through the production of individual species pages documenting microscopical and field observations (e.g., Lobophora variegata).
  • Molecular investigation will emphasize sampling and preservation of material for subsequent analysis of DNA sequences for barcoding, phylogenetic and biogeographical studies

The course will be taught in English.

Application: Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to before January 15th, 2015. Limit 12 students. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget. For more information see


Fabio Nauer

University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Ph.D. student at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), under the supervision of Dr. Mariana Cabral de Oliveira. Working with taxonomy and molecular phylogeny of red algae. Interested in algae taxonomy, phylogeny and phylogeography.

Maria Emilia Croce

Universidad Nacional del Sur
I’m a phycologist from Argentina. I’ve been dedicated to the study of seaweeds since 2008 when I began my doctoral studies at Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS). My field of research has always been related with the diversity and ecology of seaweeds from northern Patagonia. I’m especially interested in the taxonomy of red seaweeds and the identification of introduced species. The applied aspects of phycology have always been of particular interest for me; therefore I’m currently involved in the search of new resources for the Argentinean phycocolloids industry. I’m enthusiastic to take the course to improve my skills on seaweeds identification.

M. Lynn Cornish

Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada
It has been my very good fortune to obtain a job in the marine plant industry upon completion of my BSc. in Agriculture from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. That was quite a long time ago now, and while I also have a small farm at home, Acadian Sea plants Limited have employed me for almost 20 years. My primary job is to produce and manage the macroalgal Seed Stock for our commercial on land cultivation facility (currently the largest in the world), but I also spend a fair bit of time and energy working in Research and Development. Areas of interest include algal pigments, algal antioxidant capacities, and the plethora of bioactive molecules and nutritional compounds that are so important to human health. My personal mandate is to educate the general public in such a way that seaweeds become a sustainable, versatile, and nutrient dense component of our daily diets.

Talita Vieira Pinto

University of São Paulo, Brazil
I am M.Sc. in Botany, and currently I am a PhD student studying marine algae at University of São Paulo (USP - Brazil). My research is focused on the systematics and phylogenetic of the marine red algal order Sporolithales (which are crustose coralline algae) from Brazilian coast.

Karla Pedraza

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Mexico
I’m a PhD student at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in Marine Botany laboratory. I'm focus on the population ecology of Phyllospadix torreyi, Phyllospadix scouleri and seaweeds associated to this ecosystem. I’m interested in broaden my knowledge about natural resources management and improve my techniques work in field and laboratory research besides increasing my knowledge about the diversity of species in the sea grass beds.

Abdiel Jover

In the last 10 years I have done my research on the topic of "ecology of macroalgae in mesolitorales environments." In particular I worked the composition and structure of macroalgae of the rocky intertidal zone. Also, the interaction of macroalgae with the associated fauna (especially shellfish). Right now I am doing my dissertation on the relationship of environmental factors that determine the composition and structure of epiphytic macroalgae assemblages in the rocky intertidal zone.

Laurie McConnico

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in La Paz, Mexico
I am currently finishing the 3rd year of my PhD program at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in La Paz, Mexico. My dissertation focuses, in part, on nutrient production and dynamics in rhodolith beds of southern Baja. I am particularly interested in determining the contribution of nutrients from cryptofaunal invertebrates harbored inside of rhodoliths. More broadly, I am interested in community ecology and population dynamics of marine algae.

Maycol Madrid

Panama University, Panamá
I am a Bachelor student in Biology with Orientation in Botany. I'm currently working at the International Cycads Garden of the Panama University and this year I'm going to start working in the Herbarium of the Panama University in which I am going to work with the collection of macro algae. For my final work, to obtain my Degree I am working with the Biodiversity, abundance and distribution of macro algae among the coast of Colon. My research interests are in ecology, taxonomy and diversity of many taxa between the Phaeophyceae and Ceramiales (Rhodophyta). My goals with this course are: to know the diversity and ecological properties of algae present in Bocas Del Toro region, improve my description and identification skills, get to know about the recent molecular techniques used in the phylogeny of algae and to have the opportunity to discuss and interchange ideas that are going to help me for my thesis work.

Laura Bush

Bangor University, North Wales, UK
I am currently a PhD student at Bangor University, North Wales, investigating changes in ecosystem engineers over decadal time, on large and small scales. Previously I was employed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as a competent taxonomist for benthic invertebrates, phytoplankton and macroalgae. Within my PhD I have worked in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London, on studies of long-term broad-scale change in the abundance of large brown macroalgae within the British Isles. Whilst I am a competent taxonomist in northern temperate flora, I have no experience of tropical phycology. I love natural history, and I wish to continue my career in marine ecology, focusing on anthropogenic impacts on species distributions and abundances, with a specific reference to marine phycology.

Robin Tylor

University of North Carolina Wilmington, U.S.A.
I am a Master’s student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. After completing a phycology course off the coast of Washington State, USA, I have wanted to extend my knowledge of algae that are found in the tropics as well as learn new techniques to identifying and classifying algae. Currently I am working on my thesis by using molecular and morphological techniques to understand the biodiversity of Cladophora (a filamentous green alga) off the coast of North Carolina.

Mariana Mungioli

University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
I am a MS student at University of Sao Paulo. I am developing research for understanding the diversity of filamentous brown algae (Phaeophyceae) in the southeast coast of Brazil in order to contribute to the knowledge of our marine flora, through morphological studies and molecular techniques.

Sofie Vranken

Ghent University, Belgium
Having grown up in an environment with a lot of attention for nature and having graduated as Master of Science in Biology (in 2012), I have been interested in our natural environment for many years. For a long time, during my studies, spare time and work, my main focus of interest was in terrestrial plants and their ecology. However, since the past two year, when working at the Phycology lab of Ghent University (Belgium), I got acquainted with marine life and the beautiful diversity of marine algae. Last year, I have been developing a database of functional important characteristics of European marine macro-algae (EMODnet) at Ghent University on behalf of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). Following this EMODnet-project, I have been working on a large-scale survey of marine seaweeds diversity found in the European aquarium trade circuit, in order to assess the risk of introducing potentially invasive species by aquarium trade in the North-Atlantic. I am currently going for my teacher’s diploma but I would love to continue in Phycology. Since my knowledge of the biodiversity of marine algae is mainly based on literature, I’m thrilled to become more experienced in the sampling and processing of seaweeds!

Holly Cronin

McGill University, Montreal, Canada
I recently began coursework as a first year human geography PhD student at McGill University through the Neotropical Environment Option (NEO), which is a collaborative academic program jointly hosted by McGill in Montreal and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. My proposed doctoral research aims to engage coastal communities in seaweed mariculture and assess institutional factors supporting emergence and sustainable development of the seaweed sector outside of Asia.

Glenda Hunter

Vancouver Island University, Canada
I was born on the east coast of Canada in Truro, Nova Scotia where the Bay of Fundy is famous for its world’s highest tides. I now live with my family on Vancouver Island surrounded by the Salish Sea on the west coast of Canada. I teach students biology and chemistry at Vancouver Island University, and believe it is important to make the environment and the conservation and preservation of ecosystems a central feature of those disciplines.

Mary Cruz Rojas

University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica
Bachelor degree student in Biology at the University of Costa Rica. Currently working as an assistant of phycology laboratory.

Luis Manuel Reyes

University of Santiago Cuba, Cuba
I am graduated in Biological Sciences, University of Santiago Cuba, graduated in 2009. In line with my undergraduate education and research topic of my thesis (Spatiotemporal variations of macroalgae the rocky intertidal zone of Aguadores-Baconao, southeast coast of Cuba), sector during these years I spent studying marine phytobenthos (sea grasses and macroalgae). I work on research projects with the main objective to strengthen and sustain the conservation of marine biodiversity, inserting the phytobenthos groups in the monitoring system of biodiversity in the province and the creation of new protected areas. Currently ongoing postgraduate studies for a Masters in Marine Biology with specialization in Marine Ecology, University of Havana, with Dr. Beatriz Martínez and with the advice of Dr. Ana Maria Suarez.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology through an award titled “Advancing Revisionary Taxonomy and Systematics: Integrative Research and Training in Tropical Taxonomy” (DEB-1456674). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.