Master’s Student, Elyssia (Ely) Gonzalez, is a graduate student studying Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences and takes part of Erin’s Benthic Ecology and Evolution Lab at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Her research interests include coral reef genetics, benthic ecology, and deep-sea and mesophotic communities, specifically Octocorallia and Hexacorallia. She strives to further global research in phylogenetic systematics to investigate evolutionary processes and classifications of invertebrates. She has a BS in Biology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and plans to continue her education by receiving a PhD in Marine Biology.

Elyssia is a first-year Graduate Research Assistant working under Dr. Erin Easton. In Erin’s Benthic Ecology and Evolution Lab, she plans to explore techniques such as genomic-skimming and target capture to further reconstruct phylogenetic relationships within taxa (Octocorallia and Hexacorallia). She is looking forward to this opportunity granted the hands-on experience needed for her future occupation, along with the further expansion of her knowledge from a rare viewpoint that very few individuals have the privilege of undertaking.