Aletta Y˝iguez

She graduated from the University of the Philippines Los Ba˝os in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology majoring in Ecology. She had worked on coral competition for her undergraduate thesis. She then proceeded to work as a research assistant at the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman for nearly two years. During this time she worked on the problem of harmful algal blooms, looking at aspects of the population dynamics of dinoflagellates in relation to their physical environment. After she was awarded the Fulbright-Department of Agriculture Scholarship and the University of Miami Maytag Fellowship, she started her Ph.D. program under Dr. John McManus at RSMAS in the Fall of 2001.

As a part of the National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE), she was able to pursue her original interest in coral reef ecology. She is now focused on elucidating macroalgae community dynamics through a combined field work and modeling approach. Macroalgae are increasing in dominance in some coral reefs, most especially in the Caribbean. It is important to determine the factors such as eutrophication and overfishing that are leading to this. She would like to capture macroalgal dynamics (e.g., growth, mortality, competition, succession) and the interaction of macroalgae with other benthos using the relatively new agent-based modeling simulation techniques. These techniques would allow the incorporation of not only temporal, but also spatial information that plays an important role in these benthic sessile organisms. This approach can help to better understand the mechanisms underlying the interactions of corals and macroalgae.