Lab members

On board R/V Connecticut, September 2019. Photo by Daniel Hentz (WHOI).
Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser
Marine biologist 

Most of the ocean floor is blanketed by soft sediments, so hard-bottom habitats are usually isolated and island-like. Any solid object - be it a reef, a lone rock, or a shipwreck - will inevitably be colonized, and these substrata provide habitats for diverse and abundant communities of sponges, anemones, crabs, mussels, and fish. As a benthic ecologist, I study the colonization and connectivity of island-like hard-bottom habitats.

My research focuses on the early life-history stages of invertebrates, including larval dispersal and recruitment. The larval phase is the only opportunity for sessile organisms to spread to or colonize new environments, but larvae and new recruits suffer high mortality because of environmental stress and predation. I seek to understand how these restrictions affect the connectivity of populations and what factors might allow some larvae to disperse farther than others. I work at all depths from the intertidal to the deep sea and I have ongoing projects at polar, temperate, and tropical latitudes.

In order to collect samples and conduct experiments, I embark on frequent expeditions to the field. I use SCUBA and small boats to reach near-shore habitats and participate in oceanographic expeditions on larger research ships to sample off-shore or deep-sea habitats with remotely operated vehicles. Much of my work involves collection of high-resolution imagery - either video or photos - from the seafloor, and so image analysis is a staple of my research. I travel frequently, both domestically and internationally, and have ongoing projects in the Fram Strait (Arctic), Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (off of Massachusetts), and Palau (western Pacific).

Currently, I am an Assistant Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Visit the blog portion of this site for the most recent information on my research activities, and contact me at if you are interested in joining my lab. More information for prospective students can be found under the "Opportunities" tab of this webpage.

Calvin Mires
Maritime archaeologist

Dr. Calvin Mires has almost 20 years of experience in maritime archaeology and underwater cultural heritage. He is a Research Associate III at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has led and worked on more than 30 maritime archaeology projects around the world, including Greek and Roman shipwrecks and harbors, Sweden's iconic warship Vasa, Confederate Blockade Runners in North and South Carolina, ship graveyards in Bermuda, and various sites in the Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and the Great Lakes. He is co-founder and instructor of SEAMAHP, a training program that leverages the concept of a ship's life-cycle to provide hands-on experiential learning to the public in maritime archaeology. Since 2015, he has co-directed the only maritime archaeology field schools in Massachusetts with cooperation of the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, the Trustees of Reservations, and the National Park Service, and has run maritime archaeological summer programs for middle and high school students. He is a Senior Tutor for the Nautical Archaeology Society for the New England region, a group that provides maritime archaeological training for the public. He has received grants from the National Park Service Maritime Heritage Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has published in The International Journal of Nautical ArchaeologyThe Society for Historical Archaeology, and Bermuda Maritimes. He is currently involved in several projects in Massachusetts, including archaeological investigation of the 1626 Sparrow Hawk and deep-sea research on shipwrecks in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Hanny Rivera
Postdoctoral Investigator

Hanny received her PhD in Biological Oceanography in 2018 from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program and her BA in Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in 2012. For her dissertation, she investigated the population genetics of corals from thermally extreme environments and studied parental effects in anemones. In the Meyer-Kaiser lab, she is analyzing population genetic and larval dispersal patterns of thermally tolerant corals from Palau. She also currently holds a Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer position at Boston University, where she uses genomics and transcriptomics to identify the cellular and molecular processes underpinning coral-algal symbioses and coral immunity. Outside of the coral realm, Hanny spends time hiking and running with her dog, salsa dancing, and experimenting with rum cocktails. 

Kharis Schrage
PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program

My name is Kharis, and I am a first-year PhD student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. I am from Alexandria, VA and went to William and Mary for my undergraduate (2017), where I studied the intertidal ecology and larval development of hemichordate worms in Dr. Jon Allen's lab. I have spent the past few years in the field working as a technician on a number of projects, from sturgeon population dynamics in the southeast U.S. to zooplankton ecology and pelagic trophic dynamics in Antarctica. These passions for invertebrate ecology, larval development, and polar science came together and led me to the Meyer-Kaiser lab, where I am planning on studying the benthic ecology of invertebrates and their meroplanktonic larval stages in the Arctic. I hope to use both oceanographic instruments as well as SCUBA to study and collect these organisms. I am still working out the specifics of my project, but I am very excited to be at this stage! Beyond my science, my favorite things still involve adventures and water - diving, fishing, traveling, exploring new places (and fudge!). I can be reached at

Former lab members and alumni

Amelia 'Mimi' Smith, Summer Student Fellow, 2020
Project: Ontogenetic development of the crinoid Poliometra prolixa in the Arctic deep sea. Paper
Currently: Intern, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources

Nicole Pittoors, summer guest student, 2017
Project: Mechanisms of succession in subtidal fouling communities Abstract
Currently: PhD student, Lehigh University