REU Success Story: Ivanna Ortiz Rivera

Ivanna Ortiz Rivera

Driven by her love for the ocean, University of Puerto Rico environmental science student, Ivanna Ortiz Rivera, joined the 2019 Coastal Ecosystems REU Site program to dive into aquatic research.

Rivera worked at the Environmental Epigenetics lab under the leadership of Jose Eirin-Lopez and CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment graduate student Javier Rodriguez Casariego. She analyzed how DNA methylation in the reef-building coral Acropora cervicornis responds to seasonal variations by looking at factors such as temperature, light and time. 

Coral reefs benefit local economies and are essential organisms in marine ecosystems. Rivera’s research played a vital role in creating a reference database that supports the conservation, management and restoration of coral reefs.

Rivera has given back to the community by teaching kids about science and volunteering with various projects. She is currently finishing her bachelor’s degree and plans to continue her education in environmental science.

River recently presented her final research project in Spanish, which can be viewed on YouTube.

The Coastal Ecosystems Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site program is a 10-week paid summer research fellowship under FIU’s Institute of Environment. For more information about the REU, please visit the program website.