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#WhereScienceLives: Aida Verdes

Meet a Member whose research and field work is shedding light on longstanding evolutionary questions.

Published February 13, 2017

#WhereScienceLives: Aida Verdes
#WhereScienceLives: Aida Verdes
#WhereScienceLives: Aida Verdes

Academy Members conduct their work in a vast range of settings. As a biologist researching marine invertebrate evolution, Aida Verdes is no stranger to doing research in unusual and unexpected places: her work has her out in the field, going on diving expeditions and conducting research aboard floating laboratories worldwide. Originally from Madrid, Spain, Aida is now based in New York City, where she is a PhD Candidate in Evolutionary Biology at the City University of New York (CUNY). She is affiliated with both CUNY's Holford Laboratory and Luminescent Labs, a collective of explorers using "science, technology, and art to understand, share, and protect nature's living light."

Aida studies the genetic basis of convergent evolution, the process by which non-related organisms independently evolve similar traits. She told us: "Studying evolutionary convergence can provide important insights into long standing evolutionary questions such as whether the same genes determine convergent traits in unrelated species. I am studying these questions in marine annelid worms that have independently evolved the ability to produce light (bioluminescence) and venom."

Check out photos of her at work below (captions provided by Aida):

These two photos [on the left] were taken aboard the R/V Bellows, one of the research vessels of the Florida Institute of Oceanography. We're sorting through sediment dredged along the Gulf of Mexico, collecting polychaete worms and mollusks.
Diving in Bermuda, collecting samples of bioluminescent polychaete worms while doing a research stay at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
Sorting out female and male bioluminescent Bermuda glow worms (Odontosyllis enopla) at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
Heading to Ferry Reach in Bermuda to collect bioluminescent Bermuda glow worms.
Getting ready to dive in Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) while on an expedition to collect polychaete worms and mollusks.
On the boat heading out to dive off the coast of Abu Dhabi, during an expedition to collect polychaete worms and mollusks.

Our series #WhereScienceLives profiles Academy Members like Aida who are conducting research in unique locations around the world. We invite you to join our global network of researchers and innovators by becoming a Member today.