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Paola Cruz-Martinez ’22

Paola Cruz-Martinez ’22 says her favorite classes were biostatistics and marine ecology.

Cruz-Martinez’s senior project focused on microplastics. Her advisor was Professor George Kraemer. Her project evolved under his direction, from simply examining microplastics found in dirt, to dirt and sand, to examining microplastics in different areas of sand on a beach. She’s focusing on the intertidal zone of Orchard Beach in the Bronx, NY, the area where the water hits the sand and where it stops, documenting the differences in abundance in each area.

Since microplastics are now so common, they can be found almost everywhere. Her work will help in future research as they can use her study to help investigate the impacts of microplastics on humans and marine wildlife.

Cruz-Martinez offers seniors some advice: don’t slack off and always stay on top of your project. “Stay on track, or even stay ahead if you can, and get things done, and then you’ll have an easy senior year!”

Looking forward, she hopes to pursue a PhD in Ecology. She’s interested in the fields of ecosystem ecology, restoration ecology, and invasive species.

Outside of school, she loves to spend time with her family and her dog, Bella, create art by crocheting and drawing, and loves to create photo albums of special memories!

—Gianna Papantoniou ’22, Intern
(Environmental Studies major, Psychology minor, Ecology concentration)

Student Career Highlights

Fall 2020: Assisted Asst. Professor Allyson Jackson on a project focusing on the interactions between wildlife and invasive plant species using trail cameras.

Spring 2021: Conducted a historical report analysis with Asst. Professor Erika Ebbs on the origin and distribution of the snail species Radix auricularia across North America, reviewing scientific reports of R. auricularia from the US and beyond to better understand its current and historical distribution.

Summer 2021: Participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) and carried out a study with Dr. Aimee Classen on the effects of altered nutrient inputs on vegetation species richness and biomass. This project was done under the long-term Detrital Inputs and Removal Project at UMBS and looked at the vegetation that is removed yearly to identify the effects these treatments have on species richness and biomass.

Fall 2021: Served as a learning assistant for the Wildlife Toxicology course.