July 21, 2016

MIT Sea Grant UROP Student Investigates Invasive Species - Christina Rossitto

by Nicole Mis

Christina Rossitto is spending her summer doing research at MIT Sea Grant evaluating competition between marine invasive and native species. She hopes to use this opportunity to gain fieldwork experience and insight into biological science.

Christina just finished her first year at MIT and is studying biological engineering. This will be her second undergraduate research opportunity, or UROP. She’s originally from New York and is an alumna of Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. At Exeter she became interested in engineering through her love of math and science.

While at MIT Sea Grant, Christina will be working with Judith Pederson and Carolina Bastidas on their research into invasive fouling organisms. Fouling organisms attach to the bottom of ships and other manmade surfaces where they are transported to different regions of the world. Hard plastic plates were deployed to evaluate the settlement of invasive and native species at two locations in Massachusetts waters, New England Aquarium, Boston Harbor and at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay. Christina is responsible for photographing the plates immediately after retrieval and, after the plates are transported to the lab, identifying individual species to genus or the lowest possible taxonomic group. Settlement date and species abundance will inform what competitive edge invasive species have and why they can be more successful. The work Christina is involved in will assist managers in their efforts to prevent, manage, and control non-native species that arrive by shipping and related human activities.

When not in class or at a UROP, Christina can be found running, going hiking, or on the Charles River as the coxswain for MIT’s women’s rowing team. On campus, Christina is part of MIT’s Committee on Discipline, which works to resolve conflicts that arise between students and student organizations and decide on appropriate action. She is also part of Greek Life on campus and is a member of the sorority Alpha Phi. One of her favorite experiences during her freshman year was renting a zip car with her friends and traveling to Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire to go hiking.