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Previous Research Experience

As an undergraduate student researcher, I participated in an NSF REU program at Duke University where I studied the light:dark circadian rhythm of larval release of a subtidal crab. At my home institution (University of Central Florida), I worked as a research assistant in the Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Lab on oyster reef restoration and living shorelines. I also completed an independent Honors in the Major thesis on microplastics in the soft tissue of intertidal crabs and oysters.  

Honors in the Major (undergraduate thesis), 2016 - 2017

University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

I completed an independent thesis project investigating the quantity and types of microplastics found in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) in the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and Atlantic mud crab, Panopeus herbstii. The soft organic tissue was chemically digested using hydrogen peroxide, filtered, and examined for microplastics. Fibers were the most abundant type of microplastic found in the organisms. The high abundance of microplastics in water and animal tissues suggested that microplastics are widespread in the IRL. My research provides a better understanding of microplastics found in the IRL and how their abundance and diversity differ between sites.

Waite, H.R., M.J. Donnelly, and L.J. Walters. 2018 Quantity and types of microplastics in the organic tissues of the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica and Atlantic mud crab Panopeus herbstii from a Florida estuary. Marine Pollution Bulletin 129:179-185.


Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) - Summer 2016
Duke Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC

In this short term project, I studied the circadian rhythm associated with larval release in the subtidal crab, Dyspanopeus sayi. Light:dark cycles are known to entrain the circadian rhythm, however, subtidal crabs are also exposed to temperature fluctuations. I investigated whether the circadian rhythm could be entrained by diel temperature cycles. D. sayi were collected and exposed to a reverse ambient temperature cycle having high temperatures at night and low temperatures during the day. Overall, crabs were found to shift to new temperature cycles, but temperature cycles were less important than light:dark cycle for determining circadian rhythm in D. sayi

Waite, H.R., K.G. Sanchez, and R.B. Forward, Jr. 2016. Entrainment of the circadian rhythm in larval release of the crab Dyspanopeus sayi by temperature cycles. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 1:41-54.

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