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Alexandra, PhD Candidate, National Geographic Young Explorer

One of my favorite quotes comes from renowned biologist E.O. Wilson: “We are not afraid of predators, we’re transfixed by them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival.” Like many children, I felt that fascination at a young age. Unlike most others, I haven’t been able to relinquish it since.

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I graduated Cum Laude from Williams College (MA) with dual degrees (B.A.) in biology and English. I am now a PhD candidate in Animal Behavior at the University of California – Davis, where I worked with Dr. Pete Klimley in the biotelemetry laboratory and am now a joint member of the marine ecophysiology laboratory (under Dr. Nann Fangue) and a movement ecology laboratory (under Dr. Damien Caillaud). During my time in the field, I’ve had first-hand experience with many large carnivorous shark species, including white sharks, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, and sandtiger sharks, through internships with Oceans Research in South Africa and the Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas.

My current focus is on the elasmobranchs that inhabit Irish waters, specifically the planktivorous basking shark. As a visiting researcher at Queen's University, Belfast (under Dr. Jonathan Houghton) and a collaborator with the Irish Basking Shark Study Group (with Emmett Johnston), I plan to examine the behaviors that drive fine-scale movements in basking shark aggregation areas, or "hotspots". The results will have a significant conservation impact that will inform the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs), and I want to use my interdisciplinary background to bridge the gap between scientists and policy-makers in this region and worldwide. 

 

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