Meet the Scientists in the Webcast from Belize
Alex Lowe is a MarineGEO post-doctoral fellow with the Smithsonian. Alex knew he wanted to become a marine scientist when he went scuba diving for the first time in his home state of Utah. Alex's research is focused on water chemistry. He uses a special tool called a data logger — like a FitBit for the ocean — to record different measures of water chemistry in coastal-marine habitats, like coral reefs. This can help him understand what conditions the animals in coastal habitats experience — and if they are stressful or not.
Maggie Johnson is a MarineGEO postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida. With MarineGEO, Maggie studies how coral reef structure and function over space and time. To study and quantify this, she uses standardized monitoring procedures, including permanent benthic surveys and Calcification Accretion Units (CAUs). She has implemented this approach at three MarineGEO sites (Bocas del Toro, Panama; Carrie Bow Cay, Belize; Indian River Lagoon, Florida) and in Coiba on the Pacific coast of Panama.
Leah wanted to be a marine biologist as long as she can remember. As a kid, she wanted to study orcas, but her interests shifted to studying coral reefs after scuba diving for the first time on a Caribbean coral reef. Now, Leah is the central technician for the Smithsonian’s MarineGEO program, which means she travels to different locations around the world, surveying and studying the diversity of life in different nearshore habitats, including coral reefs.
Leah is working on a research project that is focused on understanding coral disease in the Caribbean Sea. Currently, about one-third of coral species in the Caribbean Sea are being impacted by a contagious coral disease, which scientists first recorded in Florida in 2014. Leah and other MarineGEO scientists are studying how this disease spreads and what happens to corals when they get the disease.
Scott Jones is the Coordinator for the Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program, which is the long-term site dedicated to investigations for coral reefs and associated mangroves, seagrass meadows, and sandy bottoms nearby. The field operations are based at the Carrie Bow Cay Field Station on the Meso-American Barrier Reef in Belize. Part of Scott’s work is dedicated to organizing and participating in long-term monitoring and research projects on the coral reefs surrounding the field station. Each year, Scott monitors the same sites to keep track of coral health and fish diversity, through the MarineGEO program and Reef Life Survey.