Introducing… Abby Cannon, PhD Student

Abby Cannon has been a part of the Smith Lab family since 2009.  She is a UCSD alum, graduating with a B.S. in Environmental Studies: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution in 2009 and started off as a volunteer assisting PhD student Levi Lewis with his SCUBA research-identifying algae and processing data.

Starting Fall 2013, she is now one of the newest PhD students in the Smith Lab.  She gives us a brief glimpse into how she’s preparing for graduate school and on her new exciting research studying queen conchs (Lobatus gigas).


An Introduction

By Abby Cannon

babybaulaAfter studying sea turtles in Costa Rica, traveling through Latin America, and helping Levi Lewis with his research on Maui I’m once again back in the Smith Lab. This time I’m a PhD student instead of a volunteer. I’m very grateful to all of the members of the Smith Lab, especially Levi, for mentoring me as a scientist and helping me to get my foot in the door.


Guayaquil localsOther than volunteering in the Smith Lab I have prepared myself for graduate school by getting my AAUS Scientific Diving certification at the University of Washington, interning at Griffith University in Australia, and traveling extensively through Africa, and Latin America. My adventures abroad helped me to better understand the environmental attitudes of different cultures and the challenges of reconciling environmental protection with economic and social development.


conchsforsaleIn keeping with my interest in the intersection of environment and culture I hope to conduct my graduate research on queen conchs (Lobatus gigas). These giant sea snails have long been a staple of the Caribbean diet and a symbol of the region, but unfortunately their population is declining due to overharvesting. While studying at Scripps I aim to investigate the effects that conch overharvesting has on Caribbean marine ecosystems and work to come up with culturally and economically acceptable solutions to this problem.