Helen Fellow Alumni 2018-2019 main content.

Helen Fellow Alumni 2018-2019

Kathleen (Katy) Abbott

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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Katy Abbott graduated with degrees in geophysics and math from UC Berkeley in 2017. While at UC Berkeley, Katy explored a variety of interdisciplinary research opportunities, such as carrying out fire-related field work in Yosemite and modeling the deformation of inflationary lava flows. After graduating, she completed an AmeriCorps term at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board studying water quality and anadromous watershed restoration in California’s North Coast. There, she helped develop a riparian shade model and used machine learning to predict vegetation types in Sonoma County. Currently, she is excited about the potential of remote sensing technologies and data visualization to understand and explain earth processes. In her spare time, she likes to read, bake bread, and explore nearby Fort Tryon Park.

Katy works with Dr. David Lindo-Atichati to study the formation of mesoscale and submesoscale ocean eddies and visualize their biological-biogeochemical interactions. Mesoscale processes are responsible for mass transport on a magnitude comparable to that produced by wind- and thermohaline-driven circulation. They range in size from about 10 to 1,000 kilometers and affect temperature, salinity and nutrient availability in the ocean. Recent advances in remote sensing and modeling have made it possible to study mesoscale dynamics at a higher resolution. In her research, Katy will use computational science to identify, track and visualize eddies near Bermuda and the Florida Keys. In addition, she will analyze these eddies to learn more about their formation and interactions with chemical constituents and biological organisms. As part of her research, Katy will also develop an interactive ocean visualization hub to display the interfaces between mesoscale processes, ocean biology and ocean chemistry.

Cecina Babich Morrow

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Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Cecina graduated from Kenyon College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics. While she misses the rural Ohio experience of being constantly surrounded by cornfields, she is excited to live and work in New York City for the first time. At Kenyon, she studied macroecology under the mentorship of Dr. Drew Kerkhoff. Initially, her research focused on testing hypervolume algorithms to quantify functional diversity and environmental niche breadth. For her senior thesis, she applied these algorithms to compare life history strategies across tetrapods. Her general research interests lie at the intersection of mathematics and biology, with the goal of applying quantitative methods to analyze global ecological and evolutionary patterns. She is excited to continue this type of research at the AMNH and hopefully spark a similar passion in her students. 

In her current research, Cecina is working with Dr. Mary Blair in the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation on the open-source species distribution modeling software Wallace. Wallace is an R-based application with a graphical user interface that supports species distribution modeling in a reproducible, flexible and extensible platform. The new project will expand Wallace to include two new functions, allowing users to estimate species’ current ranges with remotely sensed products derived from satellites and to calculate key biodiversity change indicators. Cecina will be working to test the new range masking function of the software on the ranges of two species of three-toed sloths. This work will contribute to an understanding of the biogeography of these species, as well as methods for modeling the ranges of competitor species.

Colleen Cleary

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Born and raised in Queens, Colleen’s path began as a computer science major at the City University of New York (CUNY) LaGuardia Community College, where she was awarded a scholarship from the New York Space Grant Community College Program and participated in a NASA summer internship at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. After transfering to a physics track at CUNY Hunter College, Colleen received an AstroCom NYC fellowship, which lead to several research projects in the astrophysics department at the American Museum of Natural History. During her time at AMNH, Colleen has applied statistical techniques to brown dwarf photometry and searched for observable signatures of supermassive black holes in dwarf galaxies through cosmological simulations. Outside of astronomy, Colleen’s interests include web development, virtual reality, and visual effects, and she can sometimes be found playing roller derby under the pseudonym Mars RollHerOver.

Colleen works with Dr. Jackie Faherty to investigate current exoplanet data and place it in context with sibling brown dwarfs. Using the museum’s high powered computer cluster, Colleen will implement the code to host atmospheric retrieval code and model the complex chemistry ongoing in the atmospheres of brown dwarfs. This method of computational remote sensing for exoplanet and brown dwarf data is largely regarded as the pathway to characterizing extrasolar planets and deciphering the weather on other worlds including whether they are made of iron, silicate or even ruby dust.

Camera Ford

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Camera Ford is a native New Yorker whose childhood fascination with volcanos and dinosaurs eventually led her to study Earth and environmental sciences. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in geology and is interested in applying her knowledge to problems facing human communities. During her time at Brown, Camera completed research in both volcanology (analyzing thermal footage of a lava lake for hazard mitigation purposes) and ecology/conservation GIS (making vegetation maps to aid Aboriginal land reclamation efforts in Australia). Camera is an avid reader, writer, and programmer whose current interests sit at the intersection of Earth and computer sciences, science communication, and social justice. She enjoys sparking and nurturing STEM interests in students who are underrepresented in those fields and believes that programming and Earth science are both vital ways to understand and interact with the world around us. Two of her longtime passions are traveling and learning foreign languages. 

Camera’s research with Dr. Mary Blair and Ned Horning of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation investigates the environmental drivers behind a moth population that is damaging sweet potato crops in the Solomon Islands. Over the last ten years, farmers in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province have noted an increase in the population of Herpetogramma hipponalis (Sweet Potato Leaf Folder) and associated crop damage. While certain agricultural practices have been found to lessen the damage, the environmental drivers of the pest population increase are still unknown. Using a combination of remote sensing techniques, geospatial analyses, and community knowledge and garden surveys, Camera’s research seeks to understand potential causes of this pest problem and find strategies to help mitigate its effects. 

Madelyne Xiao

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Madelyne Xiao hails from Frederick, Maryland and is a recent graduate of Stanford University. She studied mathematics and comparative literature as an undergraduate and enjoys anything that lies at the intersection of the two: data journalism, science communication, and data visualization, among others. A longstanding interest in writing/editing and life sciences drew her to the fellowship’s teaching and research components, respectively; she hopes to share her love for both with her Brown Scholars. Madelyne also enjoys bioinformatics, genomics, and theoretical computer science and is excited to explore deep sea evolutionary biology with a project in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, through which she’ll be studying genomics in the context of black coral phylogenetics. If she’s not in front of her computer, she’s likely reading, running, or wandering around NYC in search of her next great sub-$10 meal.

Black corals are considered a deep-water group and thus are subject to crushing pressures and freezing cold temperatures. The impact of pressure on protein/enzyme structure and cellular machinery is largely unknown, and the possible impact of this extreme environment on DNA replication could be profound. Novel gene arrangements are anticipated, but also the presence of novel genes within this unique group of corals. Madelyne is working with Dr. Estefanía Rodríguez and Dr. Mercer Brugler to elucidate additional gene arrangements in order to better understand the mechanisms behind these events and begin to infer the selective advantage of a given arrangement. The goal of this research is to test whether mitochondrial gene rearrangement events are linked with rapid bursts of nucleotide substitutions.