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Kristen Whalen


Kristen Whalen earned her B.S. in marine biology in 2001 at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and her Ph.D. in the WHOI/MIT Joint Program in Biological Oceanography in June 2008.  In September 2008, she embarked on a new adventure that will take her to the temperate rocky reefs of Sydney, Australia. As a National Science Foundation International Postdoctoral Fellow, she will investigate how marine herbivores, such as sea urchins, are able to cope with the toxins in their diet. Considered to be the “sheep of the sea,” sea urchins can consume fields of fleshy macroalgae that are full of toxins. How they do it has remained a mystery. With technology developed at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Whalen will be able to home in on the handful of genes—out of thousands—that protect these marine herbivores from toxins they eat. When Whalen is not SCUBA diving for her research subjects, she enjoys oil painting and coaching the WHOI Biology Department softball team, also known as the “Redfielders.” (The Bio Department is housed in the Redfield Building.)

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