Rachel Boschen is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Rachel’s current project is investigating the functional ecology of hydrothermal vent communities. What an organism does in an environment, its ‘function’, is increasingly important in understanding how communities work and how sensitive they are to disturbance. Hydrothermal vents experience natural disturbance from tectonic and volcanic activity but they are also at risk from human impacts, such as deep-sea mining. Rachel will be using video footage, specimens and environmental information collected from the Schmidt Cruise to Niua to describe the hydrothermal communities present, to investigate how they function and determine their relative sensitivity.

Rachel completed her PhD at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, in 2016 and her Masters of Science Integrated in Marine Biology at University of Southampton, UK, in 2012. Her PhD research focussed on the ecological effects of hydrothermal vent mining at underwater volcanos north of New Zealand. During her research, Rachel has published papers on seamount ecology; deep-sea community structure and relationships with environmental characteristics; deep-sea brittlestar feeding, breeding and population structure; genetic connectivity of deep-sea vent mussels; and the use of genetic methods to help select suitable protected areas from deep-sea mining. Currently, Rachel’s main research focus is determining the functional ecology of vent communities within the Edeavour Hydrothermal Vent Marine Protected Area, the first marine protected area to be established in Canadian waters.

In her down-time, Rachel enjoys typical marine biologist past-times, including swimming, snorkelling, SCUBA diving and underwater photography.