I am a PhD student in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) studying Interdisciplinary Ecology. My current research project is based out of the Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach, Florida where I collaborate directly with the Florida Aquarium to develop commercial scale methods for Diadema sea urchin aquaculture and restoration.  Before joining the Patterson lab, I was an Aquarist at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland for three years and was responsible for maintaining the institution’s live coral reef exhibits. While there I fostered a strong interest in life support design for closed system aquariums. I have additional research experience in coral reef ecology and fisheries science at both the New England Aquarium and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, respectively. I am also a certified PADI open water scuba diver instructor.



  • B.S. Biology and Environmental Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA


  • Best Young Investigator Oral Presentation, 2019 International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching



Pechenik, JA, Chaparro, OR, Pilnick A, Karp M, Acquafredda M, and Burns R. 2016. Effects of embryonic exposure to salinity stress or hypoxia on

     post-metamorphic growth and survival of the Polychaete Capitella teleta. Biological Bulletin 231:103–112.