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Everything's coming up corals
Date:5/8/2008

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. Two University of Miami (UM) students have received prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their doctoral work on coral reefs. Rachel Silverstein and Nitzan Soffer will each receive three years of support for their work in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Baker, an assistant professor in the Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries at UMs Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. In addition, a third student entering Bakers lab this fall, Ross Cunning, also received an Honorable Mention in the same national NSF competition.

Silverstein, a native of La Jolla, Calif., is a first year Ph.D. student who came to the Rosenstiel School after completing her degree at Columbia University in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, where she graduated cum laude. Taking a year off before starting at RSMAS, Rachel undertook an internship at the William J. Clinton Foundation's Clinton Global Initiative conference, where she worked on climate change-related projects pledged by conference participants that included heads of state, religious leaders, and top CEOs from the private and NGO (non-governmental organization) sector.

For her senior thesis at Columbia University, Silverstein collected coral samples from the remote coast of Western Australia to study how corals change their algal symbionts over a latitudinal gradient from the tropics to the temperate regions. Understanding how these algae change within corals is critical to understanding how coral reefs might respond to a warming global environment. Silverstein is currently writing up this study for publication, and plans to work on the intersection between climate change and marine conservation for her doctoral work. She was also awarded a Graduate Student Fellowship from UM, which currently supports her work.

Nitzan Soffer entered the Ph.D. program at the Rosenstiel School in fall 2006, after earning her d
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Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
305-421-4704
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert

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