Fellow spotlight: Juliana Cornett

woman standing in a snowy field with spruce trees in background
photo courtesy of Juliana Cornett

Juliana Cornett is working at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) in Juneau, Alaska, for her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship. She supports research projects related to Alaska mariculture—the farming of shellfish and seaweed—under the mentorship of Dr. Jordan Hollarsmith, AFSC’s lead research biologist for mariculture and macroalgae.

Cornett is focusing on a long-term monitoring project at a Juneau oyster farm to identify how environmental conditions and the presence of types of phytoplankton—microscopic plants in the water—impact the health of farmed oysters. The research team is finding seasonal variation in environmental conditions and phytoplankton community composition. These observations may eventually enable predictions of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxin levels in oysters. 

Cornett recently presented these results at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage and will be presenting later this month at an aquaculture conference in New Orleans. “I am excited to present our results at these conferences,” she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to share research and receive feedback on the results, and also to network with scientists from Alaska and beyond.”

Cornett is passionate about science communication, education and outreach, and is incorporating these interests into her fellowship. She is painting a poster of Alaska mariculture species, contributing to a website for her oyster farm monitoring project, and creating lessons on Pacific oysters and Alaska mariculture for K–5 students.

“I was drawn to a mariculture-focused fellowship position because it is an exciting and rapidly growing field, with the potential to significantly benefit Alaskan communities, the seafood industry, and marine environments,” Cornett said.

Prior to starting her fellowship, Cornett received a BS in biological sciences from the University of California, Davis and an MS in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). As a graduate student, she studied physiological responses to hypoxia in juvenile flatfishes. She also worked as a program assistant for the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Program at CSUMB, and as a naturalist on a whale watching boat.