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Assignment: Keats is researching the feeding preferences of pelagic tunicates, animals that serve as a key link between lower food-chain organisms, such as bacteria, and commercially important fishes. She will use atomic force microscopy to understand how microbes are captured by these filter-feeders. An important component of the project is artistic and educational outreach that will bring the microscopic images to a wide public audience.
Education: Keats received her B.S. in Environmental Studies from The College of Idaho. She received an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, for which she researched the socioeconomic impacts of jellyfish on Oregon fishermen. She is currently a second-year Ph.D. student in Biology in Dr. Kelly Sutherland’s lab at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.
Professional and Research Interests: Keats has wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary interests, which include gelatinous zooplankton ecology, creative writing, microbiology, and the incorporation of fishers’ traditional ecological knowledge into scientific research. She hopes her research will help promote public understanding of the critical role of microbes in marine food webs.
Check out the video Keats made as a result of her research, exploring the remarkable, efficient way tunicates feed - and help move tiny food particles up the marine food web: