Meet the ZEN exchange student fellows!

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This summer we have four outstanding graduate students traveling to different ZEN partner sites. These ZEN “exchange student fellows” will be assisting with all aspects of the research at their host sites, from fieldwork to labwork, and in the process learning new research skills and about the local culture. See below for a quick synopsis about each of our four student fellows and stay tuned as they will be writing periodic posts about their experiences throughout the summer.

Serena Donadi

Serena Donadi is a PhD student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands advised by Drs. Klemens Eriksson and Jeanine Olsen. Serena assisted with the ZEN experiment at the Northern Norway (NN) site last summer. She is working at the ZEN site in Virginia this summer. Her dissertation research examines the role of mudflat ecosystem engineers (cockels, lugworms, mussels) on sediment stability and the structure of the benthic community in the Wadden Sea.

Rachel Gittman

Rachel Gittman is a PhD student at UNC-Chapel Hill working at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, North Carolina, USA, advised by Drs. John Bruno and Pete Peterson. She was the local contact and helped with the ZEN experiments in North Carolina both last and this year. She will be working with Dr. Masakazu Hori at the southern Japan site (JS) and assisting with projects at the northern Japan site (JN) starting at the end of July. For her dissertation, Rachel is studying the effects of shoreline development on functioning in salt marsh and seagrass habitats in coastal North Carolina in addition to exploring food web interactions in these systems.

Nicole Kollars

Nicole Kollars is a master’s student at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, advised by Dr. Erik Sotka. She assisted with the ZEN experiment in North Carolina (NC) this summer and will be working with Dr. Massa Nakaoka at the northern Japan (JN) site starting at the end of July. Nicole’s master’s research focuses on the ecological roles of the invasive red seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla in the mudflats of the southeastern USA.


Max Overstrom-Coleman

Maxwell Overstrom-Coleman is a PhD student at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, advised by Dr. Brad Taylor. He recently started working at the ZEN site in Massachusetts with Dr. James Douglass. Max’s dissertation work focuses on the role of eelgrass as foundation species and their effects on abiotic habitat parameters in estuaries in the northeastern USA.








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