Rachel Struch is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Group in Ecology. She earned her B.S. in marine science and biology from Coastal Carolina University and was previously employed with NOAA as a research fishery biologist and aerial observer for Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Her experiences in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) sparked her interest in studying the toxicological and physiological impacts of contaminants in marine environments.
Rachel is quantifying polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in bile and liver samples from demersal fishes collected in the GoM. This research will evaluate species-specific differences, correlations with fish length and sex, and spatiotemporal trends to establish contaminant baselines for GoM benthos. Rachel is also assessing the physiological and behavioral responses of juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) exposed to contaminants and pathogens in the lab and field. She is interested in examining how exposures to different water temperatures affect infection severity and predator-prey interactions with Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). These projects will further our understanding of multiple environmental stressors in California’s Bay-Delta.