At first blush, sea slugs might appear to be an unconventional research topic, but spend a little time with Elysse Ornelas-Gatdula and it starts to make perfect sense. Some species of sea slugs respond to oceanic temperature changes, such as La Nina and El Nino events, making them good candidates for research into climate change. “This has implications for understanding how global warming may affect the distribution of other marine species,” says Ornelas-Gatdula, a marine biology student and teaching associate whose interest in nature began years ago with visits to tide pools.
She and her advisor, Professor Angel Valdes, shared their findings at the recent Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) faculty-student research poster reception in Long Beach. COAST provides funding for students to carry out their marine biology research in the lab.
Valdes says an awareness of marine science is vital to the state.
“California’s economy is so dependent on the ocean,” he says, citing tourism, transportation and fishing.
Valdes says it is “very important to develop mechanisms to enhance our research programs in marine science, and COAST constitutes a unique opportunity.”