Valeri Lapacek, MSc Student

Marine Science & Conservation Working Group
Community Outreach & Development Working Group

Email: vlapacek@tropicalcc.org

Education
MSc Student, Biology
University of Guam
BSc, Biology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Background & Research Interests
My career aspirations to inspire, teach, and learn will always include my passion for coral reef conservation and to create a supportive environment for students facing cultural/social exclusions. I take great delight using my scientific skills, leadership abilities, and creative thinking to make a difference for coral reef conservation efforts, and equal educational opportunities.  

My broad research interests are to examine the relationships between scleractinian coral and microbes.  During coral stress (i.e. ocean acidification), the coral holobiont shifts away from a healthy-associated microbe community, including protists, bacteria, and archaea.  Examining these changes, using genetic and molecular techniques, can allow us to monitor the health status of reef systems and allow us to predict/prevent coral disease outbreaks.  

Other interests of mine are to examine the genetic communication between microbes and coral, also known as quorum sensing.  Bacterial communication has been shown to influence the settlement rate of coral larvae.  In other words, bacteria have a vital part in the settlement, growth, and development or coral.  To help rebuild and preserve reefs, this research helps us understand the complex components of schleractinian reproduction with hopes of increasing coral larvae settlement rates