Toxic red tide algal blooms have been increasing in frequency and range due to rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, causing a great amount of damage to fisheries and ocean ecosystems in many places around the world. One particular red tide algal species, Karenia brevis, produces neurotoxic chemicals that can cause massive fish kills and poison humans who ingest contaminated seafood. Our research will examine the effects of exposure to K. brevis on the survival and growth of Crepidula fornicata, a local species of marine snail that has become a prolific invasive species in many parts of the world and is common in the Gulf of Mexico, where K. brevis regularly blooms. Through our proposed research on C. fornicata larval and juvenile life stages, we hope to gain insight into how toxic algal blooms might affect the ecosystems and food webs of which C. fornicata is now an integral part.
Daria is a Masters candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the Biology department. She expects to complete her studies in May 2021. Daria earned a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Education at Stanford University. Prior to coming to Tufts, she spent her undergraduate summers learning about different perspectives in conservation and experiencing first-hand how she could contribute to the conservation field. Daria worked at the New England Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, helping orphaned and injured wildlife recover and return to the wild. She also volunteered with Wildlife & Ecological Investments, a research group in South Africa, to help with biodiversity monitoring at a small game reserve in Kruger National Park. Daria participated in a summer research fellowship at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research helping with the captive breeding and rehabilitation of the Pacific Pocket Mouse, which solidified her desire to go into applied conservation research. Prior to coming to Tufts for graduate school, she took a gap year to work at a non-profit in the San Francisco Bay Area called Grassroots Ecology where she led habitat restoration projects and field trips about how creek pollution affects benthic macro-invertebrate communities. This is where Daria found her love for environmental outreach and education. At Tufts, Daria is a teaching assistant for the Marine Biology class and is part of ERGO, the Ecology Reading Group at Tufts.
Current Studies and Future Goals
When asked what she found most meaningful about her field of study, Daria responded with the following: “What I love about ecology is seeing how interconnected everything is. People often forget that humans are a part of ecosystems too and that our actions affect other organisms just as their wellbeing and behavior affect us. Studying and communicating how climate change is impacting our local ecosystems is especially important to me because it allows people to see the changes that are happening in their own neighborhoods, parks, and beaches.”
When asked what interested her in becoming a TIE Fellow, Daria responded with the following: “The opportunity to learn from peers studying a wide variety of disciplines is what drew me to the TIE Fellowship program. Now more than ever, we need to think creatively about how to solve pressing environmental issues and I'm excited to learn new approaches and ways of thinking from the other fellows as they work on their projects.”
After Tufts, Daria’s ultimate goal is to work in habitat and species preservation, contributing to the maintenance of ecosystem balance through invasive species management and endangered species recovery programs.
When not doing school work, Daria loves hiking, playing volleyball, photography, cooking, and growing plants.
Favorite food/drink: Chai Tea
Favorite movie/TV show: Grace & Frankie
Favorite place you've visited: Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil