Although not working in academia or a student at the time, I keenly applied to an advert for the 1st International Workshop on the Impacts of Ocean Acidification and Climate Change on Corals and Coral Reefs. The workshop was a collaboration between Mote Marine Lab in Florida and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel.
The workshop brought together participants from six nations, myself being the sole UK representative, to work on a multistressor (temperature, ocean acidification, and nutrients), interdisciplinary experiment on dominant reef-building species Stylophora pistillata. Coral fragments were exposed to treatments in a factorial fashion before our arrival and were analysed with a range of physiological tests during the workshop. Parameters included chlorophyll concentration, algal symbiont counts, respiration versus photosynthesis, photosynthetic efficiency, protein quantification, classification of the microbial community, and symbiont genotyping. Many of these methods were new to be and/ or built on the experience I gained during my internship at Essex University.
The “Red Sea Simulator” experimental system in Professor Maoz Fine’s Lab is world class. Built specifically for long term exposures of organisms to combined local and global stressors, it can be controlled to highly resolved user defined conditions, monitored continuously by an automated robot and custom software.
In order to complete data collection during the five day workshop, working days were busy and extended into the early hours of the next morning. It was intense. A steep but exciting learning curve and another experience of working closely with a passionate international team.
This workshop formed the relationship with Professor Fine which led to the initiation of my Ph.D. project under his supervision.