My research focuses on the capacity of benthic marine organisms to cope with changing environmental conditions. Specifically, I have devoted the last ten years to understanding how coral reef organisms are impacted by changing seawater chemistry (ocean acidification), alone and in combination with warming.
I’m interested in the ecology and evolution of tropical reef-building corals, from close to the surface to well into the twilight zone. As a molecular ecologist, I combine genomics and field ecology to understand how corals diversify and adapt to different environmental conditions. Much of my research has focused on studying genetic patterns “across the reef slope” (over depth), piecing together the evolutionary processes that have led to those patterns, and inferring how those patterns impact the interconnectivity of shallow and deep reef habitats.
My primary research goals are directed toward understanding how the functional and trait diversity of marine fauna changed during and after events of major environmental disturbance, such as mass extinctions. I am currently working on modelling the functional and trophic dynamics of Mesozoic marine food webs.
Christine is the Collections Manager for Geology and serves as the EPICC (Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic) project manager at CAS. Her research focuses on environmental and paleoenvironmental reconstructions of marine ecosystems utilizing microfossil assemblages, and how this data can inform future predictions for these ecosystems in the face of climate change.
When I was about 8 years old, I sat at the kitchen table and used a blue ballpoint pen to draw the "blueprints" for the research vessel I would be using when I became a marine biologist. Things don't always go the way you plan--even when you start early. But I can say that my life as a field biologist and phylogeneticist of marine organisms has never wavered from the exciting endeavor represented by those childhood sketches.
Chrissy Piotrowski is responsible for the care and maintenance of a vast, taxonomically diverse invertebrate research collection (excluding entomology specimens). She oversees all collections-related activities and documentation: acquisitions, curation, taxonomic determinations, loan and exhibit of specimens, research visits, inquiries, and maintenance of an online searchable database of digital specimen records.
I am the Curator of Geology, and I've been at the Academy since 1999. I hold degrees in Biology (B.Sc.), Oceanography (M.S.) and Geology (Ph.D.). My research is transdisciplinary, with a focus on understanding the evolution of ecological systems, emphasizing paleontology, deep time, and perspectives on complexity dynamics. Most of my research these days centers around global change biology, and how we can further develop our understanding of Earth's past ecosystems to better forecast our future.