Laurie Raymundo signs on as director of the University of Guam Marine Laboratory  

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History has been made with the creation of a permanent director’s position at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory. During its 52 years of existence, the facility has followed the tradition of having a three-year rotating directorship that the faculty took turns occupying. 

On August 2, 2022, UOG Professor of Marine Biology Laurie Raymundo signed her contract to fill the marine laboratory’s first permanent directorship position.  

“This is a huge change for the better. As we have grown, it has gotten harder and harder for everyone to deal with a position of leadership that is only for three years,” said Raymundo. “The continuity that the permanent position provides will enable long-term planning and implementation.” 

Raymundo’s qualifications for the job are stellar. As a coral scientist, she, her students, and colleagues have been in the forefront of coral restoration in Guam and the region. She has also held the director’s position from 2010 to 2013 and again in 2019 through August 2, 2022. 

She is happy to be able to continue her research and work with students on the university’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant as well as other grants she has for the next few years. Mentoring students is something she relishes, so she is not ready to relinquish that responsibility. 

When asked about her vision going forward, she gave a soft chuckle at the novelty of the question. In the past, the directorship involved putting out fires. With the new sense of stability of a permanent directorship, she wants to continue the partnerships that have been formed and wants to get faculty input as to needs going forward. Organizing a yearly faculty retreat to discuss what has been accomplished and how to propel future endeavors is on her list of priorities. 

“We work in 50-year-old buildings that have some issues, so I will be writing some grants to shore up infrastructure to meet the needs of all the new faculty we now have. There is a lot of talk about a Ph.D. program, and we have the talent, but that will need the support of the University.” 

Director Raymundo will bring some new and exciting changes to the middle-aged UOG Marine Laboratory while continuing its reputation for excellent scientific exploration and innovation. 

UOG Marine Lab conducts first coral genetics research on the Mariana Islands of Maug, Pagan, and Sarigan 

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A first-time study on the genetics of corals from the Northern Mariana Islands of Sarigan, Pagan, and Maug is underway at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory with funding from the UOG Sea Grant program and support from the National Science Foundation-funded Guam ESPCoR grant. 

A four-person research team spent 10 days on these islands in May collecting eight different coral species known for their reef-building ability and ecological importance to other species. The team is now sequencing and analyzing the DNA of the corals to identify if and how coral populations throughout the Marianas archipelago are connected and, therefore, how resilient they may be to warming waters.  

“We are looking to understand the roles of these northernmost Mariana islands and their coral reefs. Can they act as reserves for the declining reefs around the southern Marianas, or do they, in contrast, depend on our reefs?” said David Combosch, associate professor of population genomics at UOG. “We will be spending months analyzing the data to understand the patterns of genetic diversity, connectivity, and adaptations across the islands.” 

Combosch is spearheading the study as lead researcher of the Island Evolution Lab at the UOG Marine Lab. Working with him are UOG alumnus James Fifer and his doctoral program adviser from Boston University, Assistant Professor Sarah W. Davies, as well as Assistant Professor Sarah Lemer, postdoctoral researcher Héctor Torrado, and graduate biology student Joe Proietti, all with the UOG Marine Lab. 

What we don’t know 

By analyzing the DNA sequences of these corals, the team can not only document the genetic diversity of corals on these islands for the first time, but can learn about gene flow — or the transfer of genetic material from one population or island to another. 

“What we don’t really know is how much and in what direction corals across islands are connected via larvae exchange and interbreeding — or if each island has their own, distinct coral stock,” Combosch said.  

If coral populations share DNA across the Marianas, there is greater likelihood that reefs will get what they need to adapt to future ocean conditions.  

“Since Guam corals live in generally warmer water than corals on the northernmost Mariana Islands, they might be better adapted to deal with the warmer waters expected as a consequence of global climate change,” Combosch said. “But it may well be the other way around. Occasional pockets of hot water in the northern CNMI could have pre-conditioned those corals for hotter days. This is one of the things we’re looking into.” 

Additionally, the northern corals may be better equipped for more acidic waters, Combosch said, since they have lived for centuries near a volcanic vent inside the Maug caldera, which releases carbon dioxide and has created a more acidic environment. 

The team is also conducting heat-stress experiments on two types of corals from Maug, Sarigan, and Pagan — Acropora surculose and Pocillopora meandrina — to see how the same corals from different islands respond.  

Getting local students involved 

During an internship last week at the UOG Island Evolution Lab, Northern Marianas College students Subin Cho and Richelle Ramon worked with UOG graduate student Mikay Reuter to reproduce the heat-stress experiments for this study and witness the effect of warming waters on Marianas corals.  

They also learned about the relationships that corals have with other species in the ecosystem and the other stressors corals face, including pollution and overfishing, that can limit their ability to recover from bleaching events and adapt. 

“It was an eye-opener to see how different species and organisms create relationships with each other in order to thrive and survive,” said Cho, a sophomore working toward an associate degree in natural resource management. “We pollute, neglect, and overlook our coral reefs and believe that many years after, it will still be there. However, after this internship, I learned that these things we are so used to will soon disappear if changes are not made.”  

Graduate students publish paper on upside-down jellyfish

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A new study by University of Guam researchers has found that differences in upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea ornata) populations found in Guam waters may be environmentally driven. 

The study, which was funded by the university’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant, was published in May in Zoomorphology, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the form and structure of invertebrates and vertebrates.   

Upside-down jellyfish spend most of their time with their bells resting on the seafloor of shallow, coastal waters. By lying upside-down, the jellyfish expose the photosymbiotic algae living inside their arms toward the sun. Photosymbiosis is a type of symbiotic relationship between two organisms in which one organism is capable of photosynthesis.   

Upside-down jellyfish can sustain themselves off the byproducts of the algae and can capture zooplankton for additional energy to grow.   

The study involved examining two upside-down jellyfish populations from Cocos Lagoon and Piti Channel. Because both populations were different in size, color, and shape, the researchers initially thought they were two different species.   

“Upon doing a little genetic work, we determined that they were the same species. So instead of it being species-level morphology differences, we determined that it was environment-level morphology differences,” said lead author Colin Anthony, a UOG graduate student studying biology. “The environments we pulled them from are very different. Cocos Lagoon had turbid, sediment-laden water and the water in Piti Channel was very clear.”   

According to the study, it may be possible that these different environments affect the way these jellyfish acquire sustenance.  

“If they’re in a little more turbid or muddy water, they may rely more on their hunting skills and releasing their stinging structures and using heterotrophy to feed versus if they’re in clearer water, they would use more photosynthetic capabilities,” said co-author MacKenzie Heagy, a UOG graduate student studying biology.   

Studying upside jellyfish is important for several reasons: some species are considered invasive, with the potential to impact the use of waterways when congregating in large numbers. Upside-down jellyfish can also serve as environmental indicators for nutrient pollution and microplastics.   

Because they are close relatives of corals, which also share the same bond with photosymbiotic algae, upside-down jellyfish are being used as a model to study coral without having to harm coral populations.   

A community effort   

This project would not have been possible without the community at the UOG Marine Laboratory and was a collaborative effort of two researchers in different disciplines. Under the mentorship of UOG Associate Professor Bastian Bentlage, Anthony studies cnidarians such as jellyfish, coral, and hydroids while Heagy studies algae, which are photosynthetic organisms, under UOG Professor Tom Schils.   

Locating the Cocos Lagoon population was achieved by UOG Marine Technician II Johnathan A. Perez, who grew up seeing them at his aunt’s house in Malesso.   

“The only way we found the populations is through people who have lived here their whole lives,” said Anthony. “They knew they were here, but they hadn’t been scientifically documented. We owe finding these populations to our friends who helped us and grew up here.”  

Heagy said that she is grateful for being able to study in an environment that has been encouraging when it comes to conducting research.  

“This is the perfect place to do this work,” said Heagy. “There are so many resources and we’re so lucky to be here. Guam gives you so many resources and so many questions to ask and so many things to think about. The marine laboratory and EPSCoR have given us so many opportunities to ask questions.” 

Student researchers from Palau and CNMI explore mangrove sites

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In June, participants of the Micronesia Summer Bridge to Bachelor’s Program from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau started their internship experience on island by gathering diatom and algae samples in several mangrove and coastal sites on Guam. The program contributes to an ongoing diatom research supported by the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). 

 

The Micronesia Summer Bridge to Bachelor’s program offers opportunities to students from the Micronesian region who are interested in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research. Participants are enrolled at the Northern Marianas College, Palau Community College, the College of Micronesia-FSM, or the College of the Marshall Islands.  

 

The students who were selected to participate in the summer program come from diverse academic backgrounds. Prior to their trip to Guam, the student interns collected marine and coastal data in their respective areas.  

 

On Guam, Professor Emeritus of Biology Dr. Christopher Lobban and his team of EPSCoR and NSF INCLUDES SEAS Islands Alliance supported student researchers/mentors are working closely with the students in analyzing the samples at the UOG Microscopy Teaching & Research Laboratory 

 

“The idea of this research experience is to give the students a chance to see what it’s like to do scientific research,” said Dr. Lobban. At the EPSCoR funded lab, the students have access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and other innovative equipment to study detailed images of the samples. 

 

According to Dr. Lobban, the overall research project seeks to determine and document the native diatom species in the region, especially on Guam, CNMI, Palau, FSM, and the Marshall Islands. Diatoms are single-celled algae found in oceans, lakes, and rivers. These microorganisms produce 20 percent of the breathable oxygen on earth each year.  

 

Basically, what we are trying to look for is to look for a signal for regional endemicity. So, we are looking at species that occur here but not in other places,” Dr. Lobban said. Samples collected in the previous year’s program resulted in student researchers discovering and naming several previously undocumented types of algae and diatoms. 

 

Yuji Chibana, one of the student interns from Palau said the program spurred his interest in Scientific research. “I’m a liberal arts major and I am trying to transition more into a Science-based major like Environmental Marine Science.

 

The experience catapulted me into that area of learning. This program is really helping me. I’ve never really been exposed into these kinds of things before. So, it is a good start.  

 

Participants of the program receive a $3,000 stipend; comprehensive research training; faculty and near-peer mentorship; and travel, lodging, and food accommodations for those traveling to Guam. 

University of Guam Marine Laboratory celebrates 50 years  

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The University of Guam Marine Laboratory celebrated 50 years of science and service to the Pacific region on May 7th, 2022.  

Since its establishment in 1970 as one of the world’s first research facilities dedicated to the study of coral reefs, researchers at the laboratory have discovered numerous new species and contributed to the recovery of coral reefs. 

During the event, UOGML Director Laurie Raymundo, commemorated the release of a book featuring photos and writing from faculty, students, and colleagues to celebrate the commitment of those who have played a part in the laboratory’s history and its research within the region. 

In his speech, UOG President Thomas Krise commended Guam NSF EPSCoR for its contributions to the facility’s research capacity. 

“We anticipate that EPSCoR is spreading the achievement of research and the development of students, which is really important,” said Krise. 

Terry Donaldson, the principal investigator of Guam NSF EPSCoR, says that the grant has helped contribute greatly to the future of the research being done at the marine laboratory.  

“We’ve got a young generation of students who have great promise,” said Donaldson. “We have a lot of people who did their degrees on Guam who have come back and lots of people who used to be on the faculty and to be able to have these people and this celebration is fantastic.  The future is bright.”  

The event connected researchers, students, alumni, and colleagues who played a part in shaping the history of the facility. 
 
“It’s pretty amazing to celebrate the lab’s anniversary,” said Kelly Ebeling-Whited, a Guam NSF EPSCoR Biorepository technician. “I get to see the people whose names I’ve seen on the really old specimens we have. I’m seeing stuff from 1963 and meeting the people who collected them.”  

The UOG Marine Laboratory continues to contribute important marine research regionally and globally. Ongoing research at the laboratory includes coral genetic connectivity across the Pacific, coral diseases, reef adaptations to climate change, and more. 

 2022 Student Research Experience: Meet our Student Participants!!  

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This year, Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomed 10 undergraduate students from the University of Guam to its Student Research Experience. From coastal oceanography to red algae ecology and diadromous genomics, the internship offers mentorship and research training to increase the diversity of students who choose STEM careers and teach them skills such as DNA extraction and sequencing, experimental design, and more. In this article, we will introduce five out of the 10 students who have joined the program.  

Jacquelyn Cabusi, a pre-pharmacy and bio-medical track double major, joined the program to gain experience conducting research. Under the mentorship of Atsushi Fujimura, a UOG professor of oceanography, Cabusi will focus on analyzing concentrations of toxic chemicals in Guam’s marine environments during and after the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and how they impact coral health. One of the chemicals that will be included in the study is oxybenzone, which can be found in products like sunscreen and certain cosmetics and can negatively affect coral health.  

“What I really enjoy about EPSCoR is that it’s allowing me to explore options and paths that I could possibly take,” said Cabusi. “Throughout my time here in EPSCoR, the primary thing I would like to learn is the reason why I applied – which is to learn more about the processes that surround conducting a research study. I’m excited to construct my own experimental design and carry it out, as well.”  

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Anela Duenas

This is not the first time that Anela Duenas, a biology major, has participated in a STEM research program. Her time as a 2021 NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance research fellow led her to become interested in the Guam NSF EPSCoR Student Research Experience as an opportunity to further enhance her research knowledge and build relationships with her mentor and peers.  

Under the mentorship of Tom Schils, a UOG professor of marine biology, she is working on the experimental design of her research project, which will focus on studying crustose calcifying red algae (CCRA). CCRA is a group of marine algae that deposit limestone like stony corals.  

After earning an undergraduate degree, Duenas plans to pursue higher education to eventually return to the Marianas and continue answering questions about the region’s marine ecosystems.  

“After graduate school, I plan to come back to the Marianas – more specifically Saipan because that’s where I’m from – and I want to conduct some research and hopefully help open the first marine lab there,” said Duenas. 

 

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Hunter Sidell got to know his mentor, Daniel Lindstrom, when he volunteered to help the UOG professor of biology collect specimens in 2021. Sidell has always been interested in the field of biology and finds his background as a philosophy major to be helpful when it comes to conducting research as it encourages him to be curious to find answers about the world around him.  

Under Lindstrom’s mentorship, Sidell’s research will involve learning more about the island’s native diadromous shrimp species. Diadromous animals are those that transition between freshwater and saltwater environments at different stages of their life cycles. Animals that are diadromous on Guam include certain species of fish, shrimp, and snails. 

“Dr. Lindstrom’s amazing. I knew that he would be a great mentor when he bought me pizza,” Sidell said. “I’d always ask a lot of questions and he never got impatient. In fact, it seemed like he was always happy to answer my questions and it created this sort of dialogue where he wanted to answer all of my questions and I wanted to keep on asking them so I could learn more. There’s nothing more I could ask for. I hope I can continue working with him.”  

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Antoni Badowski

Antoni Badowski, a biology major, joined the SRE program to gain research experience and apply what he’s learned in his classes to conducting research. 

Badowski, who has always been fascinated with the natural world, says that being mentored by Daniel Lindstrom has been a great experience. Under the mentorship of Lindstrom, Badowski is excited to learn more about the diadromous animals that are native to Guam.  

“I am most excited to meet and work with other people who are passionate about the natural world,” Badowski said. “I’m also excited to explore and find out my areas of interest and career fields to get know more of what I can do in the future and what I can accomplish.” 

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Zaine Benavente

Zaine Benavente, a biomedical track major, saw the SRE program as a way to gain experience and become more familiar with the lab procedures he would conduct in his classes.  

“I just finished my genetics class and I was thinking that I could get more experience here because we had been doing a lot of extractions and procedures in the lab and I wondered if it would be similar,” said Benavente. “And it is quite similar! Now, I’m applying what I’ve learned in the classroom to my internship.”  

During the program, Benavente has been performing DNA extractions of coral samples as part of his work with David Combosch, a UOG professor of population genetics. Combosch’s research explores evolutionary questions in island settings using genetic and genomic approaches to inform coral reef conservation, management, and restoration.  

“As one of my career goals, I always told myself that I wanted to be a medical lab technician,” said Benavente. “But now that I’m in a STEM program, I get to explore and pick the brain of my advisor about what it’s like to be a researcher.”  

Study explores effects of nutrient pollution on Guam reefs

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Warming waters, diseases, and sedimentation are some stressors that threaten the health of coral reefs. To help preserve these important ecosystems, a researcher from Kansas State University visited the University of Guam and studied a stressor that has not been well-explored — the effects of nutrient pollution on corals found in Guam waters.  

Nutrient pollution is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorous in the air and water and can damage the environment, cause health problems, and take a heavy toll on the economy.  

Molly Fisher, a graduate student from Kansas State University, arrived on Guam on March 14 as part of the first academic cross-collaboration between Kansas NSF EPSCoR and Guam NSF EPSCoR.  

She came along with her advisor, Walter Dodds, a distinguished professor from KSU. Dodds’ research areas of specialization focus on water quality and nutrient cycling. He departed Guam on March 18.  

Dodds and Fisher collected small samples of staghorn coral (Acropora pulchra), one of Guam’s dominant reef-builders, from West Agana and the Luminao Reef in Santa Rita.  

The sites were chosen due to their different levels of human activity. Substances such as fertilizer, stormwater runoff, and sewage treatment plant discharge can cause nutrient pollution.  

“Luminao is our pristine site while West Agana has roads and a sewage treatment plant that may contribute to increased levels of nitrogen in the water,” said Dodds. “We add nitrogen and phosphorous to get our plants to grow. If you add too much fertilizer, the system gets too productive for its own good. In the case of corals, that means that algae can grow over the surface of the coral and cause them to stress and die.”  

Fisher said that the coral samples were exposed to varying levels of ammonium and will monitor how the corals respond over time. Ammonium is one form of nitrogen that can be present in marine ecosystems.  

“Anthropogenic nutrient loading is a stressor to corals that isn’t heavily studied,” said Fisher. “Our work is pretty novel, and we hope that we can figure out how they respond to nutrient loading in an attempt to hopefully lessen the impacts on corals.”   

Dodds said that the faculty and staff at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory have been integral to the execution of the project.  

“We’re grateful for the faculty here at the University of Guam. They’ve been extraordinarily helpful and have gone out of their way to make us feel welcomed and find the materials that we need to do this work,” said Dodds. “Everyone has been super helpful and told us that if we need anything at all, that we can talk to them. It’s been an incredibly pleasant experience so far.” 

Fisher concluded the experiment and departed Guam on April 10.  

Challenges, way forward for STEM research-industry development discussed  

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Members of the Guam Science and Technology Steering Committee continue to conceptualize a plan to augment the island’s STEM capacity and sustain various industries enabled by research.  

During a meeting on Jan. 20, the members reaffirmed their objectives to serve as a center for collaborative regional and international research, increase STEM capabilities through education and workforce development, expand STEM infrastructure to support higher-level research and economic growth, utilize dynamic communication strategies to relay STEM knowledge, and cultivate a diversified economy.  

The committee also recognized the following challenge areas across each of the objectives: biomedical professions and healthcare policy; information technology and cybersecurity; sustainability and quality of life issues relative to waste management, energy, agriculture, and protection of natural resources; biosciences and technology transfer; and opportunities with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).   

Beyond research ‘for its own sake’  

The committee oversees Guam’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals and Oceans (GECCO), as well as the Guam NASA EPSCoR program. 

“The responsibility of this committee is to try to understand what EPSCoR is about and help highlight how it could potentially affect the economy. At the same time, it feeds back to the scientist and gets them to look at the world a little bit differently other than research for its own sake. How do we identify industries and how do we identify talent? What are some real-life opportunities?” said Dr. Robert Underwood, committee vice chairperson and President Emeritus of the University of Guam (UOG).  

“Moving their activities to some of the concerns we have here, that’s the point at which we meet,” he added.   

Diversifying Guam’s economy through jobs 

Committee co-chairperson and Guam Economic Development Authority chief executive officer, Melanie Mendiola, presented models to help accomplish a diversified economy with jobs through small and large businesses in multiple industries based on researchers’ findings. 

The models established processes stemming from industry selection to government policy development and incentives, access to capital, and establishing jobs through business development, to include a process for stakeholder assemblies to identify current issues, UOG receiving funding to research those issues, and scientists then presenting the research and developing proofs of concept alongside entrepreneurs to market products, build businesses, increasing job availability.  

Mendiola and Dr. Austin Shelton, UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant director, discussed recent products created using the invasive chain of love vine (Antigonon leptopus), such as bath bombs, fabric dye, and foods.  

“We need to find entrepreneurs willing to take the leap, have access to capital, and turn the chain of love into the next thing,” said Mendiola.  

“We want industries that have higher paying jobs, something that jives with Guam’s comparative advantage, something sustainable, environmentally, and something that’s culturally sensitive. Where can we assign processes to these, who can contribute, and how do these processes overlap with existing initiatives?” she continued.  

Sustainability in interested, committed population 

Underwood and Roderick Boss, committee co-chairperson and Docomo Pacific president, emphasized the need to plan with sustainability in mind. They explained the idea of forming interest, quality researchers, and capacity through the educational enterprise, beginning at the elementary level and being refined during years beyond. 

“The base of the pyramid has to be wider than what we think of it right now,” said Underwood. “None of this will actually amount to a whole lot because that sustainability is not the economic activity in and of itself. I think the sustainability is in who’s working at it and who is committed to it. Where do they come from, and how rooted are they in the community?”  

“The University of Guam is certainly available for helping to do this,” said Dr. Thomas Krise, UOG president. The idea of a workable example is very important just to help inspire people’s imaginations.” 

Guam EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Newly discovered diatom species named after UOG researcher  

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A newly discovered diatom species was named after Christopher Lobban, a University of Guam professor emeritus of biology.

After naming around 80 diatom species since he started researching them in 2007, a newly discovered diatom species has been named in honor of Christopher Lobban, a University of Guam professor emeritus of biology.  

Diatoms are single-celled algae found in oceans, lakes, and rivers and are considered important primary producers.  

Funded by the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR grant, Lobban researches and catalogs diatom species found throughout the coral reefs and mangroves of Micronesia. 

According to the study, the new species, Druehlago lobbanii, was named after Lobban in recognition of his extensive and lasting contribution to marine and tropical diatom research. The paper was published in December in the peer-reviewed journal Phycologia.  

The new diatom species was discovered in a tidal flat in South Africa by Roksana Majewska, the lead author of the paper. Lobban was informed about the naming of the species just a few days after the start of the new year.  

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The diatom, Druehlago lobbanii, was named after Lobban in recognition of his extensive and lasting contribution to marine and tropical diatom research.

“Usually, species are named after their characteristics. When species are named after people, it’s to honor them for different things such as their contributions to the research or personal importance,” said Lobban. “After naming so many diatom species from Guam’s coral reefs, I guess it was just a matter of time before someone would name a species after me.”  

Lobban is the co-author of the genus Druehlago, which he named after his doctoral mentor Louis Druehl in 2016. Druehlago lobbanii and Druehlago craspedostauriformis join Druehlago cuneata as three members of the genus.  

According to Lobban, he’s grateful to share this honor with his mentor.  

“A few years ago, when I was naming some new genera, I wanted to honor the people who guided my work,” said Lobban. “I thought of Louis Druehl because he got me into diving and helped me get through to my Ph.D.” 

UOG students present and network at STEM diversity conference

Louise SACNAS

Four members of the Guam NSF EPSCoR undergraduate Student Research Experience and five research fellows from the NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance program presented their research at the 2021 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Digital Conference from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29, 2021.  

SACNAS, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, is the largest multicultural STEM diversity program in the US.  

During the conference, the students were able to attend workshops, research presentations, and connect with officials from schools nationwide for research experience opportunities.  

“I feel great that I got to present at SACNAS,” said Louise Pascua, a UOG undergraduate biology student. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to finish in time for the conference because we had a lot of difficulties, but everything worked out in the end. I’m glad I got to show everyone all the work I’ve been doing this past year.”  

Through the Guam NSF EPSCoR undergraduate Student Research Experience, Pascua was mentored by UOG Professor of Biology Daniel Lindstrom. Pascua’s presentation entitled, “Genetic Barcoding of all Amphidromous Nerite and Thiarid Snails Native to Guam,” focused on determining whether or not certain species of snails were native to Guam.  

“I feel very thankful and appreciative that a student with my background was able to present at this conference,” said Merry Remetira, a UOG undergraduate civil engineering student. “Everyone has been very kind.”  

UOG Assistant Professor of Oceanography Atsushi Fujimura mentored Remetira for her Student Research Experience. Remetira’s project, “The Relationship between Seagrass Cover and Water Physicochemical Parameters in Achang Bay, Guam” focused on determining water quality and environmental factors that affected the growth of seagrass on Guam. According to the study, seagrass meadows are beneficial ecosystems that provide habitats and food sources for many marine species.  

During the conference, the students were able to connect with organizations and colleges for research opportunities. 

Representatives from Texas A&M University and Iowa State University reached out to Pascua and Remetira about their work. 

Boston University, Rutgers University, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography were among several institutions that contacted Gabriella Prelosky, a UOG undergraduate biology student, about research experience opportunities.  

As an NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance research fellow, Prelosky was mentored by Christopher Lobban, a UOG Professor Emeritus of Biology. Her project, “Biodiversity of mangrove diatom communities in three Western Pacific islands” focused on documenting the most frequently occurring diatom species in Guam, Palau, and Yap. Through her project, 13 new species of diatoms were recognized. Earlier this year, Prelosky discovered two potentially new diatom species from Yap.  

“A lot of people reached out to me to check out their programs and even my dream school messaged me! It was a lot of fun and it’s an opportunity that not a lot of people get to experience,” said Prelosky. “I feel really lucky.” 

The NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance is administered by the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant programs in partnership with the School of Education at the University of Guam. Austin Shelton, Cheryl Sangueza, and Else Demeulenaere serve as investigators of the grant award. NSF INCLUDES collaborates closely with the Guam NSF EPSCoR program, also funded by the National Science Foundation. 

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“I feel very thankful and appreciative that a student with my background was able to present at this conference,” said Merry Remetira, a UOG undergraduate civil engineering student.
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