Wednesday, August 10, 2016

URSP Student Highlights: Rachel Haley

My name is Rachel Haley, I am a sophomore double-majoring in Chemistry and Microbiology. I am currently researching the fungal microbes of microbial communities at shipwreck sites in the Gulf of Mexico.  The primary goal of my research is to establish that fungi are present at these shipwreck sites and identify the phylotypes of these fungi.
I am interested in studying the specific fungi, identifying the microbes that populate the communities at the shipwrecks, and how my research fits in and contributes to the greater project that is the focus of my lab. I work for Dr. Leila Hamdan and Dr. Jennifer Salerno in their lab at George Mason’s Prince William campus. The lab is working with BOEM on SCHEMA: shipwreck corrosion, hydrocarbon exposure, microbiology, and archaeology. This project studies whether shipwreck sites act as artificial reefs, island theory of biogeography, and the effect of the 2010 oil spill on the microbial communities-their composition, metabolic functions, and relative abundance. My research will contribute novel information regarding fungal groups and expands on previous research with respect to both bacteria and archaea.
In May of this year I joined Dr. Hamdan and other members of our lab and several colleagues from the Naval Research Institute on the R/V Pelican for a week of collecting samples in the Gulf of Mexico. Since returning, I have worked with Dr. Hamdan in the lab at Prince William, performing DNA extractions and working with bioinformatics pipelines to analyze the DNA sequences of samples collected during the previous sample collection in 2015.