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.

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 kmeyer@whoi.edu 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.

Kharis Schrage
PhD candidate in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography

There is a black box in marine ecology - what happens during settlement? There is a fair amount of research on on benthic marine invertebrate adult ecology and even some on larval ecology in situ - but relatively few studies are able to link the two by quantifying settlement. My research focuses on this difficult-to-study life-history stage, specifically in the complex ecosystem of the Arctic. My dissertation involves the use of a unique camera system in the lab called CATAIN - Camera To Analyze Invertebrates - that photographs its own clear end cap that functions as a fouling panel. In this way, I can collect data on settlement and post-settlement mortality on time-scales of a day or less. I am applying this technique and others in the Arctic to better understand the seasonal and spatial of settling invertebrates. This will help us better understand the role of early life-history stages in setting up adult benthic community assemblages and diversity gradients throughout complex fjord ecosystems. In addition, I am investigating larval abundances and strategies in two low-food environments - the polar night and the Arctic deep sea. This work takes place using everything from intertidal sampling by hand to deploying equipment from large research vessels. I am from Alexandria, VA and travel extensively for work and for fun. I can usually be reached at kharis@mit.edu.

Kimberly Nuñez
Summer Student Fellow

Hello! My name is Kimberly and I am from Brooklyn, NY. Currently, I am a Junior at CUNY Macaulay Honors College at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I major in Cell and Molecular Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Environmental Justice. I am the Lead Biology Tutor at John Jay’s Math and Science Resource and conduct research in Dr. Anthony Carpi’s lab. My current project focuses on determining how microorganisms play a role in soil mercury emissions through methods of stimulation and suppression. My marine biology research interests lie in those that can inform environmental policies, particularly megafauna conservation. This includes studying the anthropogenic and climate-driven effects on population and community dynamics, migration patterns, predation habits, communication, and behavior. In the Meyer-Kaiser lab, I will be analyzing potential drivers of change to observe how they affect benthic communities in the Fram Strait. During my free time, I enjoy reading, spending time with my friends and family, and catching up on my favorite YouTubers or shows. 

Kraken
Golden Doodle

Kraken comes to the lab with Kirstin a few days a week. His research interests include environmental smells, creative and alternative tug toys, and novel disassembly methods for cellulose-based waste (i.e., cardboard). Kraken's dissertation, entitled "Investigations in misbehavior: methods for optimizing treat output in a Homo sapiens household," was heralded by the Canine Research Society as "the most comprehensive experiment in puppy misbehavior in several years." Since completing his education, Kraken has stayed on in the Meyer-Kaiser lab as a researcher in the global OCEM network (Olfactory Cues for Environmental Monitoring). His data collection involves daily walks along a set route in Woods Hole to monitor changes in environmental conditions along monthly, seasonal, and annual time-scales. 

Former lab members and alumni

Hanny Rivera, Postdoctoral Investigator, 2018-2021
Project: Population connectivity and adaptation for thermal tolerance among corals in Palau Preprint
Currently: Gingko Bioworks

Amelia 'Mimi' Smith, Summer Student Fellow, 2020
Project: Ontogenetic development of the crinoid Poliometra prolixa in the Arctic deep sea. Paper
Currently: ORISE Intern, US Environmental Protection Agency

Nicole Pittoors, Guest Student, 2017
Project: Mechanisms of succession in subtidal fouling communities
Currently: PhD student, Lehigh University

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