Graduate Student Alumni Profile

Andrés Quesada

M.S. Environmental Science; Marine and Estuarine Science Program (MESP)

Began Program:  Fall 2013.   Graduated:  Summer 2015

Thesis Advisor: Dr. Brian Bingham

Current Employment

Andrés is Associate Director of the Salish Sea Research Center at Northwest Indian College. He helps manage ongoing research projects, coordinates outreach activities, and mentors students. Currently, he and others at the center are studying the effect of hydrogen sulfide on Manila clam growth in Lummi Bay tide flats.

Background

Andrés decided to attend WWU after participating in MIMSUP (the Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences Undergraduate Program), a National Science Foundation-funded program that was designed to increase diversity within the next generation of marine scientists. The program was run at Western's Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes. It was a fantastic learning experience that polished his scientific skills and cemented his interest in marine biology. When the program ended, he wanted to continue with marine science and decided to go back for graduate school at Western.

Huxley Thesis Project

Title: Effect of symbiotic state on the fatty acid composition of Anthopleura elegantissima

Description: Sea anemones can be a fascinating chimera, having symbiotic algal cells living within their animal tissues. The aggregating sea anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) is very abundant in the Pacific Northwest and hosts two types of algae, a brown dinoflagellate and a green chlorophyte, making it a fantastic guinea pig for the study of symbiosis. Andrés measured the concentration of fatty acids in the tissues of anemones hosting each kind of algae. He discovered that anemones hosting the brown symbionts have higher concentrations of fatty acids than those hosting the green symbionts. Because fatty acids are energy-rich, these differences can have profound effects on an anemone's ability to survive and reproduce. Thus, the brown dinoflagellate seems to be a better symbiotic partner for A. elegantissima. 

Accomplishments: Thesis was recently published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. This was his 4th contribution to the refereed scientific literature while a graduate student.

Graduate Program Experience

Favorite classes: (ESCI 502) Experimental Design and (ESCI 521) Biological Oceanography

Comments about the graduate program: In his own words, his experience at WWU “was great!” Andrés received a lot of support from faculty, staff, and peers. A graduate thesis is not the achievement of just one person, but rather the result of many people coming together to help a student succeed. At Western everyone wants to see you achieve your goals.

When asked what his favorite part about graduate school was, Andrés indicated that the whole experience was very valuable. He was able to conduct original research, attended conferences, take interesting classes, and obtain teaching experience. Andrés favorite moment was when he successfully defended his thesis –it was the culmination of all his efforts.

Andrés on Bellingham: "Bellingham is a fantastic place to live. It has a unique combination of sea, islands, and snowy mountains. One day you can be kayaking in the Puget Sound, the next snowshoeing in the North Cascades. There is also an abundance of natural resources year round -- you can dig up clams in the spring, pick berries in the summer, go crabbing in the fall, and fishing in the winter."

Hobbies: "On weekends I'm usually either hiking in the North Cascades or tending to my beehives."

Advice for Prospective Students: "Manage your time well, have good communication with your advisor, and block off time to have fun. Most importantly, to achieve a graduate degree, it is helpful (although many people would argue that it is indispensable) to acquire a taste for canned soup and ramen noodles."

Other Comments: "I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Brian Bingham, for all his support over the last few years."

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andres-quesada-8b647b109