About Me

 

Diana LaScala-Gruenewald

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a marine biologist and freelance science writer interested in researching the movement behaviors of intertidal and subtidal invertebrates, and disseminating my findings (as well as the scientific discoveries of others) through clear, vibrant and engaging online and print journalism.

My research interests lie at the intersection of ecology, biomechanics and behaviour. In particular, I investigate how the movement behaviours of intertidal and subtidal marine invertebrates affect their ecology and energetics, and our ability to manage their populations effectively. I am fascinated by the strategies that relatively simple animals use to survive and thrive in complex and variable environments, and hope to broaden my studies in the future to better understand how animals generally make movement decisions.

Since 2010, I have also worked as a freelance science journalist for a variety of online and print publications. I am passionate about communicating scientific ideas to lay audiences, and believe that clear, story-driven writing can play a key role in driving public enthusiasm and support for research.

I invite you to explore my website and discover more about my current research and writing projects. My CV is available for download here, and is also outlined below.

Education

 

Ph.D. - Stanford University, Biology

June 1, 2017

Dissertation: "The roles of competition, behavioral plasticity and sensory perception in the foraging behavior of an intertidal limpet" advised by Dr. Mark Denny.

B.Sc. - Massachusetts Insitute of Technology, Biological Engineering

June 6, 2011

Minor in scientific writing.

Research Experience

 

Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Auckland

June 1, 2017 - present

Work includes tracking spiny lobster (Jasus edwardsii) using acoustic telemetry, characterizing lobster population dynamics using mark-recapture and diving surveys, and hindcasting fishing pressure and recruitment levels using historical population data.

Doctoral student, Stanford University

Sept 2011 - Jun 2017

Dissertation: "The roles of competition, behavioral plasticity and sensory perception in the foraging behavior of an intertidal limpet" advised by Dr. Mark Denny. Work included studies on small-scale environmental variation and its impact on intertidal communities and limpet foraging behavior, mathematical models of foraging, the biological relevance of scale-free foraging patterns, and the roles of personality, behavioral plasticity and social interaction in foraging.

Summer school student, Santa Fe Institute

June 2014

Intensive courses on topics including network theory, complex non-linear systems, information theory and scaling. Collaborative research projects: "Can simple models reproduce complex transportation networks: Human cities and ant colonies" and "Is evolution a software engineer? A case-based comparative analysis of biological and software systems."

Undergraduate research program intern, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

June - August 2010

Independent research project: "An interactive genomic map between budding yeast species for the study of DNA replication" advised by Dr. Michael Zhang.

SSI research intern, California Academy of Sciences

June - August 2009

Independent research project: "Modeling and assessing the behavior of fossilized food webs" advised by Dr. Peter Roopnarine.

Research Publications

 

Small marine reserves do not provide a safeguard against overfishing

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Haggitt, T., Kelly, S., Hanns, B. and N. Shears. "Small marine reserves do not provide a safeguard against overfishing." In prep for Biological Conservation.

Long-term mechanistic hindcasts predict the structure of experimentally-warmed intertidal communities

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E. and M.W. Denny. "Long-term mechanistic hindcasts predict the structure of experimentally-warmed intertidal communities." Submitted to PNAS.

Sensory perception plays a larger role in foraging efficiency than heavy-tailed movement strategies

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Mehta, R.S., Liu, Y. and M.W. Denny. "Sensory perception plays a larger role in foraging efficiency than heavy-tailed movement strategies." Accepted at PlosONE.

Quantifying the top-down effects of grazers on a rocky shore: selective grazing and the potential for competition

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Miller, L.P., Bracken, M., Allen, B.J. and M.W. Denny. (2016) "Quantifying the top-down effects of grazers on a rocky shore: selective grazing and the potential for competition." Marine Ecology Progress Series 553:49-66. PDF

Research Presentations

 

Small marine reserves do not provide a safeguard against overfishing

2018

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Haggit, T., Shears, N. and S. Kelly. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Invited Talk: The roles of competition, behavioral plasticity and sensory perception in the foraging behavior of an intertidal limpet

2017

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E. Moss Landing Marine Laboratory Spring Seminar Series.

Perception is paramount: efficient foraging in patchy environments

2016

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Mehta, R.S., Liu, Y. and M.W. Denny. Western Society of Naturalists and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Long-term effects of thermal variability on intertidal communities

2015

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E. and M.W. Denny. Western Society of Naturalists and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Suboptimal limpet foraging in a patchy environment

2015

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E. and M.W. Denny. Animal Behavior Society.

Using microalgal morphotypes to characterize interspecific competition in upper intertidal limpets

2014

LaScala-Gruenewald, D.E., Miller, L.P., Allen, B.J. and M.W. Denny. Western Society of Naturalists.

Honors and Awards

 

Performance-Based Departmental Funding ($3,000)

2018

Awarded on a competitive basis to fund collaboration and publication.

Esther M. Zimmer Graduate Fellowship ($18,000)

2015

Awarded for outstanding research in marine biology.

Melbourne R. Carriker Student Research Award in Malacology ($900)

2015

Awarded to support student research in malacology.

Dr. Earl H. Myers & Ethel M. Myers Oceanographic and Marine Biology Trust Award ($2,500)

2014

Awarded for the advancement of studies in the marine sciences.

Eugene C. and Aileen E. Haderlie Memorial Award ($1,000)

2013

Awarded for work in natural history of marine invertebrates.

Stanford Biology Excellence in Teaching Award

2012


Awards for Scientific Writing

2010-present

  • Hopkins Marine Station Science Writing for Non-Scientists Award (2014).

  • MIT DeWitt Wallace Prize for Science Writing for the Public (2010, 2011).

Teaching Experience

 

Course Coordinator in Science Communication, University of Auckland

2019

Designed and taught workshop-based course. Focused on oral and written communication to scientific and lay audiences.

Co-instructor in Marine Ecology, University of Auckland

2018

Assigned readings, led seminar discussions, and designed and graded test questions on the topic of movement ecology.

Guest Lecturer in Invertebrate Biology, Stanford University

2014

Taught lesson and lab: "The amazing Mr. Limpet: biology, ecology and behavior."

Teaching Assistant in Invertebrate Biology, Stanford University

2013

Assisted with weekly labs and organism collection. Taught lophophorate, cephalochordate and gastropod lectures in the professor's absence.

Teaching Assistant in Scientific Diving, Stanford University

2013

Assisted with set-up and accompanied divers on training dives.

Teaching Assistant in Introductory Field and Plant Biology, Stanford University

2012

Assisted with weekly lab and field work.

Mentoring and Outreach

 

Post-graduate Mentoring

Benn Hanns (Ph.D., 2017-present). Benn is examining the relationships between movement, size, fishing pressure and nutritional condition in the spiny lobster, Jasus edwardsii. Learn more about Benn here.

Undergraduate Interns

Colleen Flynn (summer intern, 2015). Mentored independent research project: "Trail-following and homing in the limpet L. scabra."

Michael Freeman (summer intern, 2013). Mentored independent research project: "Characterizing and comparing limpet foraging strategies using power law statistics."

High School and Middle School Outreach

Monterey Bay Aquarium Young Women in Science Day (2014-2015). Taught invertebrate biology labs for young women, many of whom were from low-income, Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

Livermore High School AP Biology Camp (2013-2014). Organized Hopkins Marine Station tour; organized and taught hands-on educational activities.

Professional Service

 

Peer Review

2018-present

Provided peer review for papers submitted to the  following journals:

  • Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

  • Marine Environmental Research

Hopkins Marine Station Graduate Student-Faculty Liason

2016

Attended faculty meetings; communicated graduate student needs to faculty.

Hopkins Marine Station Graduate Student Seminar Series Organizer

2014-2015

Organized seminars and speaker visits; handled budget, lodging and transportation for each speaker.

Hopkins Marine Station Monday Monthly Seminar Series Organizer

2013-2014

Organized graduate student talks throughout the school year.

Scientific Writing

 

Freelance science writer

2010-present

Work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including:

Selected publications

Professional Skills and Memberships

 

Professional Skills

  • Programming in Python, MATLAB, NetLogo and R

  • Spatial data processing, analysis and visualization in QGIS and ArcGIS

  • Design and construction of specialized lab and field equipment

  • PADI CPR, AED and First Aid Certification (renewed 2017)

  • American Academy of Underwater Scientists (AAUS) Scientific Diver Certification (2012)

  • PADI Divemaster Certification (2018)

  • PADI Full Face Mask Diver Certification (2018)

  • Communication and promotion of science to general audiences

Professional Memberships

  • Western Society of Naturalists

  • Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

  • Animal Behavior Societ

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science

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