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Meghan M. Shea

All humans indirectly or directly depend on the ocean, yet we are altering marine ecosystems faster than we can currently study them. Marine scientists have begun to look to environmental DNA (eDNA) — the bits of genetic material that organisms leave behind in marine ecosystems — to more quickly and inexpensively monitor marine biodiversity. Due to advances in genetic methods, we can filter eDNA from seawater and sequence that DNA to begin to characterize the ecosystem from which the sample was collected. In my research, I simultaneously study both how eDNA can best be collected in nearshore environments and also how different stakeholders — from scientists to the public — think about and use eDNA data. From qualitative interviews to collecting water samples, from online databases to local beaches, I aim to bring together biological oceanography and science & technology studies to advance the use of marine eDNA as a tool for biodiversity monitoring.