NOAA Hollings Scholar
NOAA Hollings Scholar, Dondra Biller will be working with JISAO research scientist Joe Resing this summer . Her project involves method development for a sequential injection analysis technique to determine the concentration of trace metals in the ocean. Dondra's goal this summer is to develop a way to make this technique easier to bring on research cruises (smaller pumps, less reagents, etc.).
Dondra is currently a third year student at UC San Diego where she is pursuing a degree in Earth Sciences - Geochemistry. Next year she will be applying to graduate schools to study chemical oceanography.
During the school year Dondra works in two labs at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For Chris Charles's paleoceanography lab, she does oxygen isotope ratio analysis on corals from Sri Lanka in order to look at past tropical climate phenomena such as El Niño. The corals record the temperature of the water in which they grew and they are sensitive to freshwater inputs from major river systems. Through isotopic analysis, she is looking at large scale precipitation patterns in the Indian Ocean.
Dondra's isotopic analysis is coupled with meteorological data from the region in order to see if there is a trend toward drought in the Indian Ocean throughout the 20th century. Along with oxygen isotope analysis, Dondra also worked this winter to establish a blank for a radiocarbon bacterial DNA method that Lihini Aluwihare's lab is currently developing. This spring she will be looking at the nitrogen isotopic ratios of chlorophyll in order to tell what type of nitrogen (new or recycled) is being used by phytoplankton in different parts of the California Current.
In her free time, Dondra enjoys running, playing soccer, and surfing. She also loves hiking, skiing, and doing just about anything outside. Dondra is from South Lake Tahoe, and growing up in the mountains gave her an appreciation and love for nature. She loves going to sea, and she went last summer on a research cruise to Antarctica. On the cruise she studied short lived radioactive isotopes of Radium and Thorium for Matt Charette from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.