The coral animal is highly sensitive to temperature changes and can die from prolonged exposure to warmer-than-usual waters. In my thesis, I study coral colonies that are more tolerant of temperature spikes. Using population genetics and genomics tools, I explore whether these corals may provide offspring to other reefs with less tolerant coral populations. I also study thermal tolerance in anemones, which are close relatives of corals. Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse and valuable ecosystems; my research seeks to better understand how reefs will fare in the near future.
|Rivera, H.E., Baums, I.B., et al. Genetic isolation and local adaptation of corals in Palau’s high temperature and low pH bays. In prep.|
|Barkley, H.C., Cohen, A.L., Rivera, H.E., et al. Coral bleaching, death, and recovery on a central Pacific reef. In review at Nature Communications Biology.|
|Rivera, H.E., and Goodbody-Gringley, G. (2014). Aggregation and cnidae development as early defensive strategies in Favia fragum and Porites astreoides. Coral Reefs 33, 1079–1084.|
|Thompson, J.R., Rivera, H.E., Closek, C.J., & Medina, M. (2014). Microbes in the coral holobiont: Partners through evolution, development, and ecological interactions. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 4, 1–20.|
Ph.D., expected 2018. Biological Oceanography. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program
B.A., 2012. Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, minor in Romance Languages and Literatures. Harvard College.
I grew up snorkeling and SCUBA diving around Miami, Florida, where I developed a fond appreciation for the ocean. As I learned about the threats to coral reefs around the world I decided to pursue a career in marine biology.
I am now a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Oceanography in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. My research focuses on reef-building corals and their ability to tolerate elevated temperatures.
I am also passionate about environmental conservation and sustainability. During my time at MIT, I co-founded the Clean Earth Hackathon, in which NGO, government, and private organizations presented sustainability challenges in their respective industries for participants to solve. I am also the co-President of the Broader Impacts Group at WHOI, which helps Joint Program students improve their communication and outreach skills and better connect science and policy.
In my free time, I volunteer at a local dog shelter. I also enjoy running, riding motorcycles, practicing aerial yoga, and making environmentally friendly household cleaners.