Eric Tong is a doctoral student in the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and is advised by Dr. Robert Toonen at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. Eric’s dissertation research examines the connectivity of reef organisms across sites in the Society Islands. This cruise provides a training opportunity to develop methods for larval capture and mesozooplankton community characterization using next-generation sequencing techniques. Over the past four years, Eric has worked primarily at the community level to develop collaborations among academics and fishermen towards improving management initiatives for Hawaii’s nearshore resources. These projects include the Opihi Monitoring Partnership (in collaboration with Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and The Nature Conservancy) and Kahana Kilo Kai, a new community-based ocean monitoring program for Kahana, Oahu. Prior to that, Eric worked as a biological technician for the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (NOAA/NMFS) in the Protected Species Division, as well as for the State of Hawaii/DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife on Kure Atoll. He sits on the board for the Kure Atoll Conservancy and is also a lead investigator for the Hōkūleʻa Worldwide Voyage Science at Sea’s pelagic fisheries project.

Eric received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Brown University and specializes in the molecular ecology of marine resources. Current laboratory projects include the genetic characterization of the Hawaiian bioeroder infaunal community (with Nyssa Silbiger, UH Zoology) and the phylogenetics of Panulirid spiny lobsters (with Dr. Matthew Iacchei, UH Oceanography).