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Kristina Cammen

Alayna Hawkins successfully defends her Masters

By | Student News

Congratulations to Alayna (Hawkins) Gigliotti, who successfully defended her Masters in Marine Biology today!  Alayna’s thesis was entitled, “From Phocine Distemper to Avian Influenza: A Study of Immunogenetic Diversity in Two Sympatric Pinniped Species.”  Despite the pandemic, Alayna has had a big summer – moving home to Pennsylvania, getting married, and defending her Masters.  While preparing her thesis for publication, Alayna plans to pursue jobs in the bioinformatics field and apply for PhD positions in marine mammal science.

A screenshot of Alayna’s research question presented during her thesis presentation on Zoom.


Welcome, Julia Sunnarborg and Dara Yiu!

By | Student News

The Cammen Lab is excited to welcome Julia Sunnarborg and Dara Yiu, two new PhD students who joined the ME-eDNA research team this summer.

Dara’s dissertation research will be co-advised by Doug Rasher and Kristina Cammen.  Based at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Dara’s research will focus on developing and implementing eDNA-based tools to study kelp-forest associated ecosystems.

Julia’s dissertation research will be co-advised by Kristina Cammen and Mike Kinnison.  Her research will focus on developing and implementing eDNA-based tools to study seals and their food webs in coastal Maine waters.  To learn more about Julia, check out this recent story in the Maine EPSCoR newsletter.

Meet Maine-eDNA: Julia Sunnarborg, Graduate Research Assistant


Lauri Leach named 2021 Knauss Finalist

By | Student News

Congratulations to Lauri Leach, who has been named a 2021 Knauss Finalist!  One of the most prestigious marine policy fellowships in the U.S, the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program places early career professionals in federal government offices in Washington, D.C. for one year starting February 2021. Fellows are placed in both legislative and executive positions, following a placement week this fall.  Stay tuned to find out where Lauri will be next year!

Lauri is a current Masters student in the Cammen lab whose research focuses on pinnipeds in the Penobscot River.  To learn more, check out her research blog and stunning photos from the field.

Holland Haverkamp successfully defends his Masters

By | Student News

Congratulations to Holland Haverkamp, who successfully defended his Masters in Ecology & Environmental Sciences today!  Holland’s thesis was entitled, “Harp, harbor, and gray seal strandings in the Gulf of Maine: A retrospective socio-ecological analysis.” This research was funded by a grant from the NOAA Prescott program and completed in collaboration with Marine Mammals of Maine and Allied Whale.

Congratulations, Cammen Lab graduates!

By | Student News

Sarah Burton and Maddie Jorge sampling seal scat and eDNA on Cape Cod with Lisa Sette from the Center for Coastal Studies

Despite (or perhaps particularly because of) an unusual end to our spring semester this year, May is always a time for celebration on a college campus.  Please join us in congratulating Sarah Burton and Maddie Jorge for graduating with their Bachelors of Science in Marine Sciences from the University of Maine!  Sarah and Maddie have both been part of the Cammen Lab for many years – Sarah joined as a sophomore initially contributing to a retrospective analysis of marine mammal stranding data and then getting her feet wet in the field, the lab, and the marine mammal rehabilitation worlds.  Maddie joined the lab in her junior year as a Maine Learning Assistant for Kristina’s Marine Mammal Ecology and Conservation course, and then transitioned into a research assistant position.  Sarah and Maddie completed a team Capstone project focused on studying the marine mammals of Western Passage using a combination of visual and eDNA surveys.

Happy New Year! Marine Mammals in the News of 2019

By | Teaching

Happy New Year!  2019 was a big year for marine mammal science, as Nick Pyenson describes in his recent reflection on the year in the Washington Post.  University of Maine undergraduate students enrolled in Kristina’s SMS308: Ecology & Conservation of Marine Mammals agree!

Check out the annual issue of student-authored Marine Mammals in the News, where students summarize a variety of peer-reviewed publications on marine mammal science published over the past year.

Cammen lab at WMMC

By | Presentation, Student News

Kristina, Lauri, and Alayna traveled to Barcelona, Spain to kick off the end of the semester at the World Marine Mammal Conference.  This biennial conference, which this year was jointly hosted by the Society for Marine Mammalogy and the European Cetacean Society, attracted over 2700 scientists, policy-makers, conservationists, and other interested parties from around the world.

Alayna and Lauri both presented posters on their Masters research at the conference.

Kristina co-organized a conference workshop on Marine Mammal eDNA.  Six invited speakers shared lessons learned from their experiences using eDNA (environmental DNA, or the genetic material that organisms leave behind in their environments through sloughing skin, etc.) to study marine mammals.  Sixty workshop attendees then discussed their questions, concerns, and hopes about the potential of eDNA to move our field forward.

Emma Newcomb’s research featured by UMaine

By | Research, Student News, Uncategorized

Emma Newcomb has spent this semester conducting research on the cases in our state-wide marine mammal stranding database that involve human interaction with seals.  This work is part of our current NOAA Prescott grant-sponsored research and Emma’s role in the research is supported by an award from the Center for Undergraduate Research.  Emma’s research was recently featured by UMaine in a series on ongoing undergraduate research leading up to our annual UMaine Student Symposium.  Check out her video, produced by Cammen Lab member, Holland Haverkamp.


New publication on pinniped recovery

By | Publication

We are excited to announce our newest publication that came out last week in Ecosphere. In this article, my co-authors (Bob Steneck and Doug Rasher) and I review the parallel histories of exploitation, decline, protection and recovery that are shared by pinniped species that breed within the contiguous US. We then discuss some of the challenges we face following recent pinniped recovery – and mention the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and multi-stakeholder approaches currently being taken in the Northwest Atlantic as one approach that may be successful in dealing with these challenges!

Figure 1. An adaptive management perspective on the path of protected species management in response to human-induced depletion.

Our open source article is freely available online at