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School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Student Spotlight: Hailee Nigro

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What interested you about your field of study? Provide details about specific research interests.

Hailee Nigro

I am interested in marine invertebrate behavioral ecology and ecological physiology surrounding climate impacts. I believe that plastic behaviors and the underlying mechanisms behind them provide a gateway into understanding organismal response and therefore survivability in changing coastal environments.

My dissertation research will investigate the effects of temperature increase on molting, mature size, and bioenergetics of blue crab life stages. This research serves to model growth of blue crabs under climate change conditions while projecting size-based lifetime reproductive output and habitat usage in the GoM based on thermal quality.

What is/was the road to your degree path?

My passion for marine biology began in curiosity for the diverse morphologies displayed by coastal and marine invertebrates. This curiosity matured into a concern for perseverance of species impacted by climate change and anthropogenic sources. I received my bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from the University of West Florida as a NIH MARC Scholar, a scholarship program for students of underrepresented groups interested in research careers. Before discovering my true research interests, I first explored marine molecular ecology, studying microplastics, toxicology, genomics, and phylogeny.

Why USM?

I chose USM in effort to expand my understanding of coastal processes while producing impactful and effective research. It is helpful to be on a campus with likeminded individuals driven by the management of marine resources. Upon being awarded the COA Diversity Fellowship, I found Dr. Zachary Darnell to be a quality advisor who could help me refine my research skills and discover pedagogy practices.

What type of job do you hope to obtain in your field of study after you graduate?

I aspire for a career in academia, pursuing my own research and guiding the research of others in coastal sciences. Within a university, I would also like to hold position in a DEI office or participate in program outreach that promotes inclusivity for students.