Although Diane grew up in Minnesota, she developed a deep passion for the ocean during childhood snorkeling trips at Buck Island, US Virgin Islands. Diane attended Florida Institute of Technology and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology in the spring of 2006. She played Division II softball at FIT for two years and was an All-American Scholar Athlete both years. As part of her undergraduate course work, she studied the reef ecosystems of the Bahamas and the terrestrial and marine ecosystems of Australia. She was also involved in undergraduate research under Dr. Robert van Woesik, modeling the timing of coral bleaching and coral spawning events. In the spring of 2006, she was named FIT's Outstanding Senior of the year. She continued working under Dr. van Woesik at FIT, earning her Masters of Science in Marine Biology in the spring of 2008. Her thesis researched focused on the relationship between the frequency of thermal stress events in the past and the severity of coral bleaching during recent warm periods.
Diane then completed her PhD in the department of
Geosciences at the University of Arizona under Dr. Julie Cole where she developed paleoclimate records from
corals and lake sediments at sites across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The
aim of this research was to better understand trends in the El Niño-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) and the mean state of the tropical Pacific
The replicated records from across the equatorial Pacific developed
through her PhD have improved our understanding of past changes in the basin and helped constrain the predictions for the future of this important climate
system that drives climate anomalies and coral bleaching events worldwide.
As a postdocoral fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Diane will use climate model simulations to assess the impact of climate variability and change on patterns of coral larval dispersal, temperature stress and bleaching. The overarching aim of this work is to determine climate-change reef refugia and identify priority areas for coral reef management efforts.
Diane aspires to continue research bridging the fields of ecology, paleoecology, and paleoclimatology to investigate climates and reef systems of the past. She aims to improve our understanding of tropical-climate variability through investigations of topical-climate archives, including coral, speleothem, and marine and lake sediment records. She also aims to further investigate the stability of the coral-reef ecosystem through past climate changes. Determining whether the changes occurring on today’s reefs are unprecedented through geological time will improve our predictions of coral-reef resilience under future global climate change.