At the Center of Research
in the Western Pacific

Graduate Research Assistants

Constance Sartor 

Bachelor of Arts in Biology; New College of Florida 
EPSCoR Research Interest: Coral Adaptation

Ka'ohinani Kawahigashi

Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of Texas at Austin 
EPSCoR Research Interest: Biorepository


Brian Coffman

Bachelor of Science in Marine Science & Biology; Mathematics (Minor), The University of Miami 
EPSCoR Research Interest: Coral Phylogeny


Justin Berg

Bachelor of Arts in Biology/Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Biosciences, Chemistry (Minor) 
EPSCoR Research Interest: Coral Adaptation

Melissa Gabriel

Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy & Pharm D.; Northeastern University 

Thesis: Gene Expression of Massive Porites along a Sediment Gradient 

Karim Primov 

Bachelor of Science in Biology/Marine Science; University of Miami

Thesis: The Population Genetic Structure of Porites lutea on Guam

Victoria Moscato 

Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, Lafayette College
Thesis: Characterization of Coral Fluorescence in Acropora surculosa in the context of stress resistance

Dareon Rios

Bachelor of Science in Human Biology; University of California, San Diego
Thesis: Population Genomics of Acropora pulchra in Guam


Diona Drake 

Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Biology, East Stroudsburg University, 2012
Thesis: "The population structure of the whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) in the Mariana archipelago"

Sharks are important to healthy coral reef ecosystems by stabilizing food webs and keeping a balance between competitive species on reefs. Research on Guam’s sharks have been limited and little is known about movement patterns and population connectivity. The aim of Diona's project is to provide an analysis of the population genetic structure of whitetip reef sharks found in Guam’s waters.

Alisha Gill

Bachelor of Science in Organismal Biology, Montana State University, 2015
Thesis Topic: Comparisons of reproductive success of the bird wrasse, Gomphosus varius (Labridae) in lek-like spawning aggregations and haremic mating systems. 

Alisha's study will consider differential rates of egg predation from and courtship interruption by planktivirous damselfishes. Damselfish densities are greater at the spawning aggregation site compared to the haremic mating sites because of fish feeding by snorkelers and divers, so egg predation rates and reproductive success are expected to differ. Possible compensation at spawning aggregation sites because of increased mating opportunities may offset egg loss and courtship interruption effects.


Andrew Kang

Bachelors of Science in Biology, Marine & Freshwater Science, The University of Texas at Austin, 2015
Thesis: "Population genetics of Porites rus populations around Guam"

Andrew's current research focuses on the genetic connectivity of Porites rus around Guam. He uses next-gen sequencing to characterize of Porites rus populations which are prevalent throughout Guam’s reefs. 


Mildred Kelokelo

Bachelors of Science in Fisheries and Marine Resources, Papua New Guinea University of Natural Resources and Environment, 2014
Thesis: "Gonad structure and reproductive ecology of the arc-eye hawkfish, Paracirrhites arcatus (Cirrhitidae)"

Mildred's work will compare patterns of sexuality, gonad structure and maturity, and reproduction.  This work will compliment previous studies on other members of the family, geographic variation, reproductive behavior and phylogeny.

Matt Mills

Bachelors of Science in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish, Georgia Southern University, Spring 2015
Thesis: "Coralline algal diversity in Apra Harbor: a molecular approach"

Coralline algae play an important ecological role in coral reefs and are some of the most sensitive organisms to climate change and ocean acidification. Matt's study will examine the diversity and community structure of coralline algae in Apra Harbor. Coralline algal DNA sequences will be compared to the known morphospecies of coralline algae within Apra Harbor, and community analyses will be conducted to examine coralline diversity and community composition along an established environmental gradient present throughout the harbor.   


Devin Resko

Bachelors of Science in Marine Science and Geography, Jacksonville University, 2014
Thesis: "Assessing differences in targeted fish species between marine protected areas and non-restricted waters on Guam"

Devin's thesis research is focused on examining the effectiveness of Guam's marine protected areas (MPAs). Doing underwater transect surveys, Devin will survey paired MPA/fished sites to look at differences in fish communities that are important in Guam's local fishery at four MPAs. The goal of this study is to shed light on which MPAs are working and to what degree.


AJ Reyes

Bachelors of Science in Biology, University of Guam, 2012
Thesis: "Siganus spinus (scribbled rabbitfish) as a model organism for assessing xenobiotic pollution in tropical marine systems"

Foreign chemicals found within organisms (xenobiotics) affect ecology in ways similar to marine secondary metabolites by eliciting biological activity within organisms. The efficiency by which marine consumers physiologically cope with xenobiotics influences their health, reproduction, and survival. AJ's research examines changes in scribbled rabbitfish (Siganus spinus) metabolic activity in response to a known endocrine disruptor, 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), at different exposure routes – intraperitoneal and in the surrounding seawater.


Frank Roberto

Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of Guam, 2014
Thesis: "Gineftao: using Modern Aquaculture Techniques to Enhance the Ancient Chamorro Tradition of Harvesting Mañåhak (Juvenile Siganus spinus)"

Frank is working to adapt modern aquaculture techniques to rear and spawn the scribbled rabbitfish in order to explore its feasibility as an aquaculture product for purposes of stock enhancement. The scribbled rabbit fish is culturally and ecologically important to the island and stock enhancement would aid in perpetuating indigenous fishing practice of harvesting manahak (juvenile S. spinus). Data from this project could help establish hatcheries and initiate restocking programs.


Abram Townsend

Bachelors of Science in Biology, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 2010
Thesis: "The genetic mapping and connectivity of Acropora Surculosa in Guam, using transcriptomics and high throughput sequencing techniques"

Abram is intersted in determining the genetic relationships within (single or multiple) coral species at various sites around Guam. Such studies are important for understanding the diversity of corals contributing to the integrity of reef ecosystems. Understanding genetic relationships among coral species has the potential to help elucidate the effects of oceanic stressors that impact coral growth, morphology, health, and reproduction.