Alice Trang Nguyen, Ph.D.
Phone: (805) 893-6176
Office: MSRB 2409
My dissertation research (in the Ecological Parasitology lab of Dr. Armand Kuris) utilized molecular genetics and laboratory experiments to investigate the genetic diversity and structure of an estuarine parasite (Acanthoparyphium spinulosum) and its host-specificity.
Climate change will profoundly affect the ecology of the oceans by potentially altering an organism’s physiology, biogeography, and thereby its interactions with other species. As a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Gretchen Hofmann, I will conduct research that will explore these organismal responses.
1) The interaction of ocean change on disease ecology.
The sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS) event of 2013-2014 is responsible for unprecedented large-scale population decline ranging from Alaska to Baja California. In Southern California, the peak of the SWSS event coincided with warmer sea surface temperatures compared to previous years for the matching period of time. I am involved in documenting and studying the recent outbreak of Seastar Wasting Syndrome on the west coast. (with Drs. Carol Blanchette, UCSB, Jo-Ellen Hose, California Polytechnic State University, Steve Schoeter, UCSB)
2) Genetic differences among populations and their response to increasing pH.
Are there winners are losers when it comes to ocean acidification (OA)? We are evaluating populations that we hypothesize will vary in their ability to successfully persist under elevated ocean acidity through differential expression of genes or by harboring alleles that may be advantageous in buffing the effects of OA. The goal is to measure the connectivity between populations from the ecologically important purple urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, along the west coast of the US that currently experience prolonged versus brief natural low-pH events. Furthermore, we are investigating the site-specific response of these populations by comparing differential gene expression after exposure to OA. Integrating these data will provide insight as to which populations may serve as future source populations and the likelihood that advantageous alleles could be passed on to other populations.
I have been involved in a number of outreach opportunities that have fueled my interest in science education including being an instructor for the School of Scientific Thought (the Ecology of Infectious Diseases), a LEAPS Fellow (NSF GK-12 program), and the Research Mentorship Program. Furthermore, I was an invited panelist for the Professional Development Series workshop – “Mentoring at UCSB: Opportunities and Unexpected Benefits.”
Nguyen, A. T., Kuwata, C., and Kuris, A.M. (2015). A synthetic workflow for coordinated direct observation and
genetic tagging applied to a complex host-parasite system.: Parsitology Research 114(5):2015-21. doi: