Research Staff & Technicians
Lia was drawn to Tucson from Pittsburgh after learning of Biosphere 2. She was inspired by greenhouses’ ability to create an artificial climate that could lead to habitable ecosystems on hostile land such as Antarctica or other planets. After a visit to Biosphere 2 and the University of Arizona, Lia knew that this was where she could pursue these goals by studying controlled environment agriculture as a Biosystems Engineering student and working at Biosphere 2. Lia started as an intern with the Biosphere 2 ocean team in 2019, continued being involved with B2O research for her senior capstone project and worked as a part time employee in 2020. After graduating with a BS in Biosystems Engineering in 2020, Lia completed an accelerated master’s program where her thesis research was associated with the WALD campaign analyzing volatile organic compounds of B2 rainforest leaf litter. In January 2022, Lia joined the Biosphere 2 ocean team full-time as a research specialist. She is passionate about the Biosphere and the extraordinary research opportunities that this one-of-a-kind facility offers especially regarding climate change and ecosystem remediation.
Renee Grambihler is an Ocean Research Specialist at Biosphere 2. In 2021, she graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Bioinformatics and a minor in Marine Science. Being born in Arizona, Renee found her passion for the ocean and marine systems later in college after taking the Introduction to Oceanography class offered at the UA. Since then, she has pursued opportunities in marine research, including an internship with Mote Marine Laboratory where she worked with corals and performed bioinformatic analyses on coral disease treatments. Renee is excited to be working with coral again and helping to take care of the incredible B2 Ocean. Her favorite part of working at B2 is getting to snorkel and dive in the Ocean and saying hello to the fish and giant clams that live there.
Dr. Dan Killam
Dan Killam has loved learning about the oceans from a young age as a volunteer at aquariums in the LA area. He received a BS in Environmental Studies at USC focusing on marine conservation, researched trends in California rainfall as an intern at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and then completed his PhD in Paleobiology in 2018 at UC Santa Cruz specializing in sclerochronology, the science of growth lines in shells. He focuses on the bivalves, researching how they record their own health and environment in the diaries of their shells. After his first postdoc in Israel studying clams of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, he is returning to the US to conduct research on giant clams grown in the large reef tank at Biosphere 2, to better understand how they record the health of their algal symbiosis. In his spare time, he enjoys nature photography, hiking, science writing, growing succulents and hanging out with his pet hermit crab.
Emma Reed graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with majors in Science of Earth Systems and English, and a minor in Marine Biology. She received her M.S. in 2016 and PhD in 2021 in Geosciences from the University of Arizona. Alongside collaborators at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Emma used coral cores to reconstruct histories of climate and coral growth in the northern Great Barrier Reef. While in Arizona, she worked at Biosphere 2 to expand its marine science curriculum for middle- and high-school students. Emma joined the Tropical Climate & Coral Reefs Lab in summer 2016. She is working to develop the first paleoclimate and coral growth records from the Marshall Islands. Such records from this understudied region could improve our understanding of Pacific climate variability on seasonal to multi-decadal time scales.
Alice Chapman received her BA in Chemistry and Geosciences from Williams College in 2015 and spent a semester with Sea Education Association (S250). After graduating, she worked as a geochemist at a small environmental consulting company for two and a half years, then obtained her divemaster certification at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas. As a new member of the Tropical Climate and Coral Reefs Lab (joined summer 2018), she is diving into an investigation of Pacific Trade Wind behavior in the context of El Niño by exploring a novel proxy, the manganese/calcium ratio of corals from the central equatorial Pacific.
Mudith M. Weerabaddana
Mudith is from Sri Lanka who joined the Topical Climate and Coral Reefs Lab in the Fall 2021. He has obtained his B.Sc. in Fisheries and Marine Science with an oceanography and marine geology major from University of Ruhuna, in Sri Lanka. He received his M.S. in Marine Environment and Resources from the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Program under European Erasmus+ scholarship. He conducted his master’s thesis research in Louisiana State University using corals from the Gulf of Mexico. He is now working on Pacific paleoclimate reconstruction using corals from the Marshall Islands. Modern and ‘fossil’ coral climate records from the Marshall Islands are used to better understand the Pacific hydroclimate variability and its influence on tropical Pacific Island nations.
Brianna Hoegler is a sophomore undergraduate student majoring in Geosciences with a concentration in Earth, Oceans, and Climate. She is also pursuing a minor in soil and water science and another in history. Brianna joined the Tropical Climate and Coral Reefs lab in fall 2019, where she works to determine paleoclimate records from nitrogen isotopes in tropical lacustrine sediment cores.
Zoe Benson is a freshman undergraduate majoring in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and English with a minor in Marine Science. She joined the lab in Spring 2020. She is currently studying manganese/calcium anomalies in Abaiang Atoll coral to see if and how the cores capture westerly wind events.
Dani Schwartz is a Junior in the W.A Franke honors college majoring in Geosciences with emphasis in Earth, Oceans, and Climate and minoring in marine science. She has been working with the Biosphere 2 Ocean team to conduct weekly nutrient samples from their ocean, mangroves and coral raceways. She is also working on independent research with the UA Tropical Reefs Lab analyzing coral samples from the the B2 ocean and the impact of ocean acidification on coral skeletal growth. Her other campus involvement include being a student mentor with Partnerships Through Honors (PATH) and a member of the student-run nonprofit, Camp Wildcat. In her spare time she enjoys camping, hiking, rock collecting and roller skating on the UA Mall.
Thompson Lab Alumni
Maria Snyder, undergraduate researcher
Rachel Jiang, undergraduate researcher