Iconic Reefs Biodiversity Monitoring

Iconic Reefs Biodiversity Monitoring


Francis Serrano

Francis grew up enjoying snorkeling, diving, and sailing and came to Miami to pursue a masters in and become a marine biologist. Francis is passionate about marine conservation and believes advancing eDNA data collection methods such as the SASe and other eDNA research are critical for conservation efforts around the world.


Hybrid remote/on-site

Brief description:

The potential mentee will have the opportunity to choose an engineering or microbiology focused project, centered around the Submersible Automated Sampler for environmental-DNA (SASe). The SASe is an open source and budget friendly programmable robot invented at NOAA AOML, and is intended to sample eDNA and preserve the sample in situ.

Engineering: The SASe’s are all constructed in house, using 3D printers for parts, soldering connections, a laser cutter, pressure chamber, etc. The mentee will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with these aspects of building, testing, and troubleshooting the assembly of the SASe robot, and the goal will be to engineer one from scratch. The mentee will also have the opportunity to program the SASe, using the Arduino interface. If the student has prior engineering experience, there is opportunity to optimize the code, or any functionality of the SASe.

Biology: The SASe’s collect valuable eDNA samples, which is just the first step in a research study. The mentee will have the opportunity to design a “mini” biology experiment, learning about current eDNA studies, and choosing specific parameters or variables of interest that could help give insight to future sampling or studies. Hands-on experience and training will be provided for lab work including DNA extractions, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and other instruments used to image or quantify the DNA.