Stephanie began her research journey working with Dr. Katie Lotterhos and Dr. Sara Schaal on growth and survival of juvenile rockfish in response to ocean warming in Bamfield, British Columbia.
Stephanie went on to complete her MS thesis work with Dr. Miles Silman at Wake Forest University, where her project focused on coral reef and seagrass communities in Belize. With a small team of undergraduates, Stephanie built and deployed underwater camera traps at 42 locations across Lighthouse Reef Atoll and supplemented observations from these cameras with grazing assays and herbivore exclusion experiments to investigate how the behavior of foraging animals at Lighthouse Reef creates a pattern of patch reef halos visible from outer space!
Image credit: Jason Houston https://www.jasonhouston.com/
Stephanie's current research at Georgia Tech focuses on the chemical ecology of host-consumer interactions in marine and freshwater systems. She studies how invertebrates from nudibranchs to crayfish detect and respond to potential sources of food and shelter in their environments.
As part of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER, Stephanie looked at how coral-eating nudibranchs track their hosts using chemical cues, and how the health of their host corals affects the growth and survival of juvenile sea slugs.
Stephanie also works with native and invasive species in Atlanta's Chattahoochee River. She looks at how freshwater plants may defend themselves against crayfish or other herbivores, and how the consumers' preferences for certain plants affect their fitness.