In 2005 Bolanle Akinrobe of Rutgers University and Martha Muñoz of Boston University were our first participants in The Diversity Project. We travelled to Ternate, Indonesia, where we boarded a live-aboard dive boat that took us around the island of Halmahera for 10 days. During this time, we samples a variety of coral reef animals, ranging from shimp and fish to corals. Look below for profiles of Bola and Martha. Click HERE for pictures of the expedition.

bolaName: Bolanle Akinronbe
University: Rutgers (B.S.), Rutgers (M.D.)
Major: Biology
Professional goal: Malaria researcher

Project: Phylogeography of the seastar Linckia laevigata and its obligate parasite Thyca crystallina.

Comments on The Diversity Project:  ” It’s an exceptional opportunity to have fun doing science. Nothing beats getting invaluable experience in a lab while living on the cape.  I learned a lot and had fun doing it. I came into the program hoping just to gain lab experience but I got a lot more. Since I attended school from home, it was the first chance I got to live with other people away from home.  Apart from working in the lab, I got to do other exciting things like learning to ride a bicycle, snorkeling and spending my weekends at the beach. ”

Where is she now? Bola graduated from Rutgers Medical School in 2010 and is now a practicing psychologist in New Jersey. You can learn more about her here.

Martha MunozName: Martha Muñoz
University: Boston University (B.S.), Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Major: Biology with a Specialization in Ecology and Conservation Biology
Professional goal: Researcher (but wasn’t sure what kind)

Project : Comparison of dispersal in two sea stars, Linckia laevigata and Protoreaster nodosus, across a known geographic barrier.

Comments on The Diversity Project: ” I must admit I did not know how much I could learn within the context of 10 intensive weeks before doing the Diversity Project.  I was able to dive and collect specimens with an amazing group of scientists and students.  I had the rare opportunity to work intensively on a team project, at the conclusion of which I saw results that contribute to the body of research aiming to determine the underpinnings of Indo-Pacific marine biodiversity.  I felt that my work with the Barber lab was a contribution to various fields of biology, stretching from population genetics to conservation biology and environmental analysis.  If you have the opportunity to do the Diversity Project, I suggest that you do not just take it; you must seize it and enjoy the experience. ”

Where is she now? After graduating from BU, Martha  was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct population genetic research in Spain. In 2008 she entered the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. program at Harvard in the the lab of Jonathan Losos. A recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Martha received her PhD from Harvard in 2014. After complete a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Craig Moritz, she joined the lab of Sheila Patek at Duke University working on stomatopods. She is now a faculty member at Yale in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology . You can learn more about her here.