Feature Friday: Katie Eaton

Hi, Katie Eaton! Great to have you on ReefBites.

https://mote.org/staff/member/katie-eaton

Katie is currently a biologist in the Coral Health and Disease program at Mote Marine Laboratory. Before working at Mote, obtained a Bachelors in Science from Fitchburg State University. Read more about Katie’s work below!

Give an elevator pitch of what your research/project is about.

My research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL focuses on the effects of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and infectious disease on different species/genotypes of corals propagated in our land-based nursery. Specifically, I’m looking at how the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease affects our corals after they have been exposed to elevated water temperature and ocean acidification.

Why is this research/project important and timely?

These three stressors are some of the major threats to coral reefs right now, particularly in Florida. The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease has devastated large portions of the Florida Reef Tract and has spread very quickly over the last couple years. It’s important that we better understand this disease and how our corals respond to it, and how they may respond to it under end-century conditions (elevated temperature and reduced pH).

What is the broader impact and implication of your findings?

The information gained from this research can be applied towards thoughtful coral restoration practices. It’s critical that the corals outplanted onto the reef are resilient to these conditions, particularly the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.

How did you come to work in this field/project?

I took a couple of Marine Science electives in undergrad and immediately knew I wanted to pursue a career in this field (also with the help of some very persuasive professors). I signed up for a Mote internship after graduation and have been here ever since! I love my job and the research I do here.

What is your top graduate school life hack or survival resource?

Write everything down and take detailed notes, especially when conducting your own experiments! Even if you think you’ll remember it later, you probably won’t ☺ Also, it’s completely okay to take time to rest and take care of yourself. We all need a break once in a while.

Any additional information or comments you would like to share?

If this research interests you and you’d like to intern/volunteer, check out our page here:

https://mote.org/research/internships/college-internship-program-overview/coral-reef-ecosystem-research-program

Learn more about the devastating Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease outbreak at:

https://mote.org/research/program/coral-health-and-disease/keys-coral-disease-outbreak

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