Maura Niemisto receives Master’s degree

Maura Niemisto successfully defended her thesis at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole. In doing so, she earned a Master’s of Science degree in Marine Biology from the School of Marine Sciences.

Niemisto studied the effects of ocean warming and acidification on the physiology, behavior, and gene expression of larval lobsters, specifically quantifying how quickly larvae develop under different temperature and acidity regimes, and their coping mechanisms in response to these stressors.

An especially novel feature of her study was to compare the performance of lobster larvae originating from different sub-populations along New England’s steep thermal gradient, from coastal Rhode Island to the Bay of Fundy.

Dr. Rick Wahle, professor in the School of Marine Sciences and director of the Lobster Institute, and Dr. David Fields of Bigelow Laboratory of Ocean Sciences served as co-chairs on Niemisto’s graduate committee. “Maura’s work is particularly interesting because it is beginning to reveal the ways the lobster genome can adapt to changes in the environment, and how those responses differ in populations from contrasting environments,” Wahle said.

Niemisto’s work is part of a collaboration between UMaine, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the University of Prince Edward Island that is supported by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Acidification Program and the Northeast Regional Sea Grant Consortium.

As she competes her degree, Niemisto will be starting a position as a technician at Bigelow Laboratory, continuing to work on lobster larval studies in a continued collaboration between the Wahle and Fields labs.