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Roberson, Loretta Associate Scientist, Bell Center


Anthropogenic impacts on coastal marine communities; physiology, ecology, and evolution of eelgrass and coral reef communities; the ecology and evolution of RNA editing in eelgrass and algae; marine biomechanics; biofuel production.Puerto Rico provides a unique opportunity to study the interacting effects of biological and physical factors, including anthropogenic factors, on tropical marine ecosystems. Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated islands in the world with over 500 km of coastline. My work in Puerto Rico has three main directions: (1) understanding coral calcification mechanisms by coupling neurophysiological techniques with ecology and environmental science; (2) measuring the distribution of pollutants in the watersheds of the San Juan metropolitan area and their sublethal impacts on local flora and fauna; and (3) growth potential of macroalgae for use as biomass in biofuel production and bioremediation. These three areas require a highly interdisciplinary approach and will provide critical information for predicting coastal ecosystem trajectories as disturbances from human encroachment and storm activity increase in the region.Our lab participates in the Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience (PRCEN), a partnership between Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Biology at UPRRP and the Institute of Neurobiologyat UPRMS; the UPRRP Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainability[MDAS1] ; the EPA Region 2 Caribbean Science Consortium; and SeagrassNet,the Global Seagrass Monitoring Program.

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