Hello, my name is Jorge Andrés Ramírez Martínez and I’m a general biology and Italian language and culture student at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Back home in PR I’ve worked mainly with freshwater testate amoebas, but during this REU I’ll be working with ctenophores. My faculty mentor is Dr. Edward Buskey and I’ll also be working with his postdocs Sarah Cosgrove and Maud Moison, data manager Cammie Hyatt, and Grad student Chi Hung “Charles” Tang. The specific work I’ll be doing will be studying the biotransference of oil across trophic levels using the copepod Acartia tonsa as prey and the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi as predator. Basically, I’ll feed oil to the copepod and then feed contaminated copepods to unexposed ctenophores and observe if and how the ctenophore incorporates the pollutant into its tissues, if and how it eliminates them, any preference for specific chemical components of the oil, any behavioral changes, and anything else I can think of measuring and observing before it’s too late to measure/observe it. Currently, I’m writing the experimental design for the project and researching literature to further my understanding of ctenophores and their roles as predators and prey.
Other than zooplankton ecology and the effects of oil in marine life, I’m also very interested in the ecological impacts of climate change, urban ecology, protist ecology, astronomy, and romance languages. When I graduate I hope to take one or a few years of me-time before continuing to my Master’s and PhD, should my interests and goals then take me that far. So far I’ve had a great time at the MSI, the REUs and I are all getting along really well, and everyone at the lab and the campus has been really nice. This is my first real research experience and things are looking really well so I’m very excited for all that’s to come.