Emma Strand, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scientist

Emma Strand is originally from Seattle, Washington, where she grew up close to the ocean and started her career in marine biology at the Seattle Aquarium. She completed her B.S. in Biology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California in 2018. During her time at LMU, Emma was a research assistant for a marine ecophysiology laboratory that focused on understanding phenotypic plasticity in blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, in response to thermal stress. Additionally, she was a coral reef research intern at Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences in Roatán, Honduras, and completed a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). At BIOS, Emma’s research investigated the genetic structure of baitfish populations around the island of Bermuda to incorporate into Bermuda’s environmental policies. After LMU, Emma completed her Ph.D. in Biological and Environmental Sciences with a specialization in Evolution and Marine Biology with Dr. Hollie Putnam at the University of Rhode Island. Her dissertation examined the physiological, genomic, and symbiotic mechanisms underlying differential stress tolerance in corals. Emma’s research was based at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology in Kaneohe Bay, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and the Richard B. Gump Research Station in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. While at URI, Emma also worked with the Sustainable Fisheries Research Group to analyze the impacts of fishing gear type on household nutrition and catch in fishing villages on the coast of Ghana. Outside of the laboratory and computer analysis, Emma served as a scientific research scuba diver for URI, divemaster, and as a graduate student representative on URI’s Diving Control Board. Now at GMGI, Emma is a Postdoctoral Scientist with the Fisheries Team. Outside of work, she enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, running, and playing in her flag football leagues.


2018 – BS Biology, Loyola Marymount University
2023 – PhD Biological and Environmental Sciences: Evolution and Marine Biology, University of Rhode Island

Research Interests

Emma’s research focuses on two main questions: 1.) How do genomic patterns influence physiological state and ultimately organismal function? 2.) How can scientists optimize application and conservation using genomic techniques in ecosystem-based management practices?

To answer these questions, Emma’s PhD work focused on how DNA methylation patterns may alter gene expression and downstream physiology in two non-model marine invertebrates: 1) two Hawaiian reef-building corals during stress and recovery periods and 2) Eastern oysters in variable nutrient environments across Narragansett Bay. At GMGI, she uses these same techniques to track changes in DNA methylation patterns that correlate with age in fish to predict the age of individuals more accurately and non-destructively. Sustainable fisheries management relies on accurate age data to generate population rates, estimate stock size, and inform harvest recommendations. Currently, fisheries are limited to using length or fish ear stones (otoliths) to approximate age despite these methods being inaccurate, labor-intensive, and/or lethal. By analyzing the changes in DNA methylation patterns, we can move away from destructive measures and predict age more accurately.


2018 – BS Biology, Loyola Marymount University
2023 – PhD Biological and Environmental Sciences: Evolution and Marine Biology, University of Rhode Island

Research Profile Links


Strand, E., Wong, K., Farraj, A., Gray, S., McMenamin, A., & Putnam, H. M. (2023). Coral species-specific loss and physiological legacy effects are elicited by extended marine heatwave. bioRxiv, 2023-09.

Stephens, T. G., Strand, E. L., Putnam, H. M., and Bhattacharya, D.B. (2023). Ploidy variation and its implications for reproduction and population dynamics in two sympatric Hawaiian coral species. Genome Biology and Evolution. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evad149

Huffmyer, A., Wong, K., Becker-Polinski, D., Strand, E., Mass, T., Putnam, H. Nutritional exchange between reef-building corals and algal endosymbionts buffers the energetic demand of larval development and recruitment in a vertically-transmitting species. bioRxiv 2023. doi: 1101/2023.03.20.533475. In review 2023.

Chille, E. E., Strand, E. L., Scucchia, F., Neder, M., Schmidt, V., Sherman, M. O., … & Putnam, H. M. (2022). Energetics, but not development, is impacted in coral embryos exposed to ocean acidification. Journal of Experimental Biology225(19), jeb243187. doi: 1242/jeb.243187

Chille, E., Strand, E., Neder, M., Schmidt, V., Sherman, M., Mass, T., & Putnam, H. (2021). Developmental series of gene expression clarifies maternal mRNA provisioning and maternal-to-zygotic transition in a reef-building coral. BMC genomics22(1), 1-17. doi: 5281/zenodo.5636821

Goodbody-Gringley, G., Strand, E., & Pitt, J. M. (2019). Molecular characterization of nearshore baitfish populations in Bermuda to inform management. PeerJ7, e7244. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7244

Gleason, L. U., Strand, E. L., Hizon, B. J., & Dowd, W. W. (2018). Plasticity of thermal tolerance and its relationship with growth rate in juvenile mussels (Mytilus californianus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences285(1877), 20172617. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2617