Jessica Panzarino is in her second year of graduate school at Harvard University in Prof. Peter R. Girguis’s lab. She studies chemosynthetic symbiosis at hydrothermal vents. In particular, she is interested in how symbiotic associations can expand the metabolic repertoire for the organisms involved. She is also fascinated in how the metabolic processes of microbes alter the geochemistry of the environment and how these alterations can have strong influences on the ecology of the area.
She became interested in the role that microbes play in geochemical cycling and ecology when she was an undergraduate at UMass Boston, where she worked with sediments in a freshwater ecology lab.
This will be her second research cruise to a hydrothermal vent system. She will use a high-pressure system to keep deep sea animals alive in conditions that mimic their native habitat. During this cruise, she will be using this system to study the fauna found in the Lau Basin.