I met Randi Rotjan when I became an intern in her lab at the New England Aquarium. Her work in coral inspired me in many ways. But the most important thing my work at the aquarium showed me was how much I enjoy working in a laboratory. I assisted with daily husbandry of temperate and tropical corals for research department of public aquarium. I designed a study to examine temperate and tropical coral response to salinity using a fluorescence-enabled stereomicroscope with HD time lapse photography. I learned protocols on RNA extraction and purification and coral happiness index (CHI) involving the visible behavior of individual polyps and assisted with ongoing immunology research project in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard University.
Randi has since moved to Boston University, but she brought me and a few other interns with her. I was able to continue my work for a little while. Here is the link to her lab website: http://www.rotjanlab.org/rotjanindex.htm
I wasn’t able to spend as much time working in the lab as I would like, but I worked to come up with a repeatable protocol for creating single, live coral polyps using this article: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms10860. I designed a microfluidics protocol to examine polyp-level response to stressors. The polyps are forced to bail from their skeletons because of increased salinity in the water.