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Bioluminescence to Invasions: The Fascinating World of Phytoplankton
“Bioluminescent bays and lagoons” are rare ecosystems worldwide. But in Puerto Rico, you can often see this incredible spectacle. When the water gets agitated, thousands of microscopic phytoplankton produce a greenish-blue flash of light. On Sept. 20, join SERC marine ecologist Dr. Brenda María Soler Figueroa to hear about the importance of these unique ecosystems, and their current status in Puerto Rico, which she calls home. She’ll reveal how local communities are working to manage and protect the bioluminescent bays and lagoons on the island. She’ll also dive into her research at SERC, where her work with the center’s Marine Invasions Research Laboratory provides insights for reducing the introduction of potentially invasive phytoplankton.

Este evento se traducirá al español! Los participantes podrán leer los subtítulos o escuchar la traducción. El evento en directo y la grabación tendrán traducción al español. (This event will be translated into Spanish! Attendees will be able to read Spanish captions or listen to the translation. The live event and the recording with have Spanish translations.)

Las bahías y lagunas bioluminiscentes son ecosistemas poco comunes en todo el mundo. Sin embargo, en Puerto Rico, este increíble espectáculo se puede observar a menudo. Miles de organismos fitoplanctónicos microscópicos producen un destello de luz azul-verdoso cuando se agita el agua. Acompaña a la Dra. Brenda María Soler Figueroa, ecóloga marina del Smithsonian, el 20 de septiembre para conocer la importancia de estos ecosistemas únicos y su estado actual en Puerto Rico, lugar al que ella llama hogar. Ella revelará como las comunidades locales están trabajando para manejar y proteger estos sistemas bioluminiscentes en la isla. Brenda además hablará sobre su investigación, donde su trabajo con el Laboratorio de Investigación de Invasiones Marinas del Smithsonian proporciona información para reducir la introducción de fitoplancton potencialmente invasivo.


* Required information
Registrants must be 18 or over (if you are under 18, your parent or legal guardian must register for you).

This program offers Q&As, chats, or polls; any participation in these is voluntary. Those choosing to participate are responsible for not sharing anything they would not want public, and only sharing content that is theirs and available for use by the Smithsonian as described below (for example, don’t share someone else’s copyrighted material or personal info). Civility is expected, and the Smithsonian may remove those whose participation does not comply with its Rules of Conduct (https://www.si.edu/termsofuse).

The Smithsonian has the right to copy, modify, publicly share, and otherwise use the recording it makes of the event in whole or in part, in any media now known or later developed; registrants waive any claim to payment or consultation. The Smithsonian is not required to use or retain the recording, which will be archived or disposed of according to its record retention and archiving policies and practices. Registrants release and hold harmless the Smithsonian, its agents, staff and volunteers, from all claims, actions and demands arising from their participation in this recorded event and use of the recording.


Dr. Brenda María Soler Figueroa
Marine Ecologist @Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Brenda María Soler Figueroa completed a Bachelor’s degree in Coastal Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the Mayagüez campus. During her graduate studies, she researched the population dynamics of dinoflagellates in the bioluminescent systems in Puerto Rico and their responses to environmental changes. Brenda now works in the Marine Invasions Lab at SERC, studying the plankton assemblages associated with the ballast water. She is one of the co-chairs of the Marine Invasions Lab IDEA Inaugural committee, an executive committee member of the SERC Women in Science group, and an advisory board member for the Woman of Color in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.