Get To Know These Faces

Amy Moran and Peter Marko join UH Mānoa Biology Department
Amy MoranPeter Marko
Dr. Amy Moran, one of the new Associate Professors of Biology, was born in Massachusetts. Dr. Peter Marko, the other new Associate Professor of Biology, was born in Alberta, Canada.

Interview by James Stone, Associate Editor of Seawords.

Where were you two working before joining the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Biology Department?

A.M.: Before coming to UH Mānoa we were both professors in the department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina for eight years. We moved to Clemson from UNC Chapel Hill, where we had faculty positions in the Marine Sciences department. Before that we had postdoctoral positions at the University of Southern California (me) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (Peter) and the University of Washington, Friday Harbor Labs (both).

Can you explain your new jobs in the Biology department? What are your roles?

P.M.: We were hired to strengthen the graduate and undergraduate programs in Marine Biology because both of these programs are growing rapidly in terms of student enrollment. Right now we’re co-teaching BIOL 404, the capstone course for the undergraduate Marine Biology major; in the spring I will teach Marine Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 301) and Amy will teach a graduate course in her specialty, larval biology. We are also developing research projects and collaborations with other faculty at HIMB and the Kewalo marine laboratory, as well as serving on department committees, working with the Marine Biology PhD program, and supervising graduate students in both the Marine Biology and Zoology programs.

What has been your research focus leading up to this point in your career?

A.M.: I work with marine invertebrates, and most of my research has focused on early life history stages (eggs, embryos, and larvae). Th ese are a vitally important and vulnerable part of the life cycle but we know much less about them than we do about adults. I’m also interested in how marine invertebrates (particularly larvae) function under physiological stress from extreme or changing temperature, pH, and oxygen environments.

P.M.: My research is in the fields of biogeography evolution, and conservation. A lot of what I have done has focused on understanding the process of speciation in the sea, but I am also interested in how demographic and selective factors shape patterns of genetic variation in populations and how genetic data can be used to understand the evolutionary histories and demographic trajectories of marine populations and species.

What is your favorite part about your job?

A.M.: I love working with organisms, particularly in their natural environments; prior to moving to Hawai‘i I traveled a lot to work with marine organisms, which I enjoyed, but it’s fantastic to have them right here. I also enjoy teaching and many of the trappings of academic life. Th e other thing that really appeals to me is the variety of roles I get to play, as a researcher, teacher, collaborator, etc.

P.M.: I was also drawn to my work by the organisms. Much of my work depends on travelling and searching for them in remote places, which I particularly enjoy. Like Amy, I am going to take advantage of being in Hawai‘i and try to do things a little closer to home.

What brought you to the field of Biology?

A.M.: My original plan aft er graduating from college was to pursue a career in music, but taking a series of marine biology summer courses at the Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories in Washington State changed my mind. Th e thing that really hooked me on invertebrate biology was the huge variety in the ways that organisms are put together and solve life’s major problems.

P.M.: I used to always watch a show (25 years ago) on TV called Oceans Alive, and was always interested in marine biology as a kid. But I never really considered a career in marine science until I got to college and was randomly paired with a marine biology advisor who got me working in his lab during the summer.

What type of things are you looking forward to being a new part of the UH Mānoa faculty?

A.M.: Being here in Hawai‘i gives us pretty much unlimited access to marine organisms and field sites so that we can do long term multigenerational experiments, as well as explore how laboratorymanipulated (=stressed) animals perform under field conditions. Teaching to the Marine Biology majors and graduate students is exciting because they’re so interested in the marine realm. It’s also fantastic to have so many great colleagues in all kinds of fields.

Any closing thoughts? Plans for new research? Projects?

A.M.: Lots of plans! Anyone interested in doing research, please check out our websites and contact one of us!