Ocean builders – Alexa Runyan uses 3-D models and novel technologies to discover how coral reef architecture affects its inhabitants and visitors | Rising Sea Voices Podcast

December 28, 2021

Follow Alexa through the pivotal moments of her early career

In this episode, Alexa Runyan, Ph.D. student in Ocean Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, explains how the call of the ocean deflected her from a musical career and led her to study coral reefs. Alexa explains her undergraduate work in Dr. John H. R. Burns’ lab on the structural complexity of coral reefs using a 3-dimensional (3D) approach to understand how the reef architecture affects organisms such as invertebrates and fish. Now the awardee of a highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, Alexa will continue this work with Dr. Brennan Phillips. This time, instead of scuba-diving to collect data on Hawaiian reefs, Alexa explains how she will use novel technologies and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) to explore deep-sea reefs in Bermuda. Her dream: mapping the whole ocean seafloor!

We hope you will enjoy this episode and join us monthly to discover new guests and their work! In the meantime, look below for Alexa’s bio and contact information.

A young white woman with long light brown hair and a blue t-shirt smiles while being seated at a desk in a conference room.

Alexa received her Bachelor of Science in Marine Science with a minor in Physics and a certificate in Data Science from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Her undergraduate research focused on 3D reconstruction of coral reefs in the Hawaiian Islands for long-term monitoring and quantitative ecology. Now a Ph.D. student in Ocean Engineering, she is interested in the development of novel technologies for deep-sea exploration to satisfy her curiosity of the unknown. You can contact Alexa at atrunyan@uri.edu.

Show Transcription
This transcription was generated by a computer. Please excuse any errors.
Felicia Olmeta-Schult

Felicia Olmeta-Schult is the 2021 Oregon Sea Grant Resilience Fellow and works to increase the resilience of Oregon communities to the impacts of climate change and coastal natural hazards. She is also ASPN University Project Lead. Felicia has a B.S. in Oceanography from Hawaii Pacific University, a M.A. in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University. Her dissertation investigated the North Coast of California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative by studying how stakeholders interacted and were involved during the marine protected area (MPA) planning process and how they perceived socio-economic and ecological effects of MPAs. She was a 2018-19 Washington Sea Grant Hershman Fellow at the Washington Department of Ecology Shorelands & Environmental Assistance Program where she participated in the Washington Coastal Resilience Project. She lives in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys the outdoors hiking and playing in rivers and the ocean. She loves traveling, especially back home to Corsica, a French Mediterranean island, so she can spend time with her family and swim in the warm sea (and not in the frigid waters of the North Pacific Ocean). You can contact her at felicia@coastalnewstoday.com and follow her on Twitter @FolmetaSchult and on LinkedIn.