In 2015 we returned to the Gump Station in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. The entire 2015 cohort and peer mentors reunited at the 2016 ASLO meetings where everyone presented the results of their research! Alumni profiles are below.







Name: Guadalupe Cordoba Ibarra

School: St. Mary’s University, San Antonio
Major: Environmental Science (BS)

Project Title: Nutrient, high light and shallow depths favor the expansion of the brown macroalgae Turbinaria ornata in the coral reefs of Mo’orea, French Polynesia.

Comments on The Diversity Project:  “The Diversity program was the best program I have attended. It taught me different things, from how to do underwater research,  genetic analysis in the lab, how to work in a diverse team, to how capable I am of learning new methods of research. This program took me out of my comfort zone and it allowed me to explore new areas of research that I would like to continue in graduate school. The program was definitely, fulfilling in every way. The great mentorship of  Peggy Fong and Paul Barber allowed me to learn different research and personal skills that I will take with me to graduate school.  This program not only taught how to be a better scientist but also how to overcome my fears of trying new things.”

Where is she now? Guadalupe is currently in her home state Arizona, working and getting prepared for graduate school next year.


DegregoriName: Sam Degregori

School: Long Beach State (BS), UCLA (PhD)

Major: Biology

Project Title: Herbivory and competition limit the vertical expansion of Turbinaria ornata on a fringing reef in Moorea, French Polynesia

Comments on The Diversity Project: “The Diversity Project was a huge stepping stone in my career as a young scientist. The research experience I gained, not only from Drs. Paul Barber and Peggy Fong, but also from distinguished scientists from Harvard and the Smithsonian, really put me ahead as a competitive applicant for PhD programs. The PhD program I am attending this fall is actually a direct result of participating in this program. Plus, getting to scuba dive off Catalina Island and in Mo’orea is pretty awesome in itself.

Where is he now? Sam will be a first year PhD student at UCLA in Fall 2016 with Dr. Paul Barber in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

ShalandaName: Shalanda Grier

School: Hampton University
Major: Biology

Project Title: Increased sediments, but not nutrients, may facilitate dominance of Halimeda opuntia through interactions with light on fringing reefs in the South Pacific.

Comments on The Diversity Project: “I learned so much about myself as a person as well as a young scientist over the course of this program. I was able to expand my knowledge concerning research methods. This project taught me how to become a stronger team player and appreciate varying views. I was able to come out of my comfort zone and I gained a greater love for the environment especially aquatic ecosystems and water resources. Peggy Fong and Paul Barber are truly dedicated to their students. They genuinely care about our success and are always willing to help out. I would not trade this experience for any other research program. It was amazing!”

Where is she now? Shalanda is currently serving for AmeriCorps as a Stormwater Outreach Coordinator. She is also preparing for graduate school.

Symone.GylesName: Symone Gyles 

School: Hampton University
Major: Marine and Environmental Science


Project Title: Increased sediments, but not nutrients, may facilitate dominance of Halimeda opuntia through interactions with light on fringing reefs in the South Pacific.

Comments on The Diversity Project: “The Diversity Project was the best internship experience I have ever had!  I was able to get experience in designing my own research project, learned new research methods, received my scuba diving certification, and had the opportunity to work with many distinguished scientists.  The leadership of Peggy Fong and Paul Barber has guided me towards wanting to continue to pursue marine science, and continue my path towards obtaining my Ph.D.  Through this program I was provided with so many networking opportunities, and it allowed me to visit, and dive in beautiful Mo’orea, French Polynesia.  Through this experience I was not only able to get a solid field and lab research background, but I was able to get to experience living in a different part of the world, and interacting with a diversity of people from different backgrounds and cultures.  I am forever grateful for TDP and the foundation it has given me as a young scientist.”

Where is she now? Symone is currently teaching 7th grade science in Hampton, VA.  She plans to attend graduate school to receive her masters in in Fall 2016.

Joanna MarrufoName: Joanna Marrufo

School: UC Berkeley (BS)

Major: Conservation Resources Studies

Project Title:  Increased sediments, but not nutrients, may facilitate dominance of Halimeda opuntia through interactions with light on fringing reefs in the South Pacific.

Comments on The Diversity Project: “This program has helped solidify my foundation as a researcher in the marine sciences. I have met the most enthusiastic and encouraging people through this program and I have a deep appreciation for everyone involved with The Diversity Project. The opportunity to train as a researcher with top-notch marine scientists and also get AAUS SCUBA diver Certified in Moorea, French Polynesia were some of the highlights of this program. I also enjoyed sharing my project at the National Ocean Science Meeting with the ASLO Multicultural Program this year. My path towards attaining a PhD is definitely in my future because of my experiences as a Diversity Project participant.

Where is she now? Applying to Master’s in Marine Science Program at the University of Costa Rica.

ManuelName: Manuel Amaury Nieves-Ortiz

School: Universidad de Puerto Rico
Major: Coastal Marine Biology at Humacao
 Project Title: Abiotic factors affecting the growth and microbial community in the brown macroalge Turbinaria ornata in Mo’orea, French Polynesia.

Comments on The Diversity Project: The Diversity Project is a one of a kind experience that will allow you to develop and polish your skills in marine scientific research and teamwork. This project exposes you to different cultures and landscapes that challenge the way in which you are used to work. The mentors, students, and staff related to TDP create an unforgettable journey that will make you change for the better. Even if you are not interested in scientific research, TDP will make you want to become a scientist. You will enjoy every aspect of training to become a scientific diver, the development of your scientific project and its fruition, and traveling to share your research with other students and the scientific community. The Diversity Project is a life-changing experience.

Where is he now? Manuel is working on finishing his undergraduate degree and looking for research opportunities as he prepares to apply to graduate school for 2017.

Name: Jonathan Rogers

School: Hampton University
Major: Marine and Environmental Science

 Christina Williams

School: Hampton University
Major: Marine and Environmental Science