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We’re excited to report that Nora McNamara-Bordewick will be joining our lab this summer as a WHOI Summer Student Fellow.

Nora is completing her junior year at Barnard College, where she is majoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology and minoring in Women’s Studies. At her home institution Nora works in a biology lab researching the cellular stress responses of honey bees and their intracellular parasites in an attempt to find novel treatments for colony disease. When she isn’t in the lab Nora can be found rock climbing, working as an EMT for her collegiate volunteer ambulance, or riding horses on her school’s Equestrian Team.

This summer, Nora will be working on our NSF-sponsored project on daily physiological rhythms in migratory zooplankton. These tiny animals move up and down in the ocean hundreds of meters every day – during night they move into shallow water to feed, and during the day they move into deep water to hide from predators. As the animals participate in this “mass migration,” they are breathing, digesting and excreting. All of these biological processes result in chemical changes in the water, affecting the movement of nutrients and energy through the water column. To try to understand these changes on a broad scale, scientists often assume that all of these processes happen at uniform rates over the 24-hour day. But that doesn’t really make sense to us. The animals are probably breathing harder while they are swimming hard or fleeing from predators. They are probably digesting and excreting more shortly after they finish eating. The goal of our project is to understand how the biology of copepods and other zooplankton changes over daily periods in relation to migratory behavior and natural rhythms.

Nora will kick off her summer fellowship with a 4-day cruise leaving from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. We’ll refine her specific project goals after she gets here, but she will likely help to characterize daily cycles in the activity of several metabolic enzymes.