A member of the 2004 NCAA national semifinal team, Kristina Fontanez '05 is finding success with her post-Princeton career as she received a Ph.D at Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.
In Fontanez's own words: "Although it is easy to focus on the amazing experience that was our journey to the NCAA College Cup, I believe that the really important work happened at practice, in the weight room, and during the conditioning tests. Without that preparation, we never could have excelled on the field. That lesson has served me well in academia. I decided to attend graduate school after Princeton because I wanted to pursue science as a career. My dissertation research at Harvard focused on understanding the evolution and maintenance of symbiosis, an evolutionary strategy fundamental to the diversification of life on Earth. During the course of this research I had the opportunity to do field collections in many exciting locations including Hawaii and Fiji (one of the best perks!). My favorite part of field studies was working with the submersibles, Alvin and Jason, which enable the exploration of the animal-bacteria symbioses surrounding hydrothermal vents and cold seeps on the ocean floor. Now that my graduate studies are complete, I am transitioning to a postdoctoral research appointment in the Boston area. During my postdoctoral research I will be examining how microbial communities in the open ocean act to regulate the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. I am eagerly anticipating this new opportunity and look forward to continuing on the academic track toward a faculty position."Fontanez defended her dissertation on Dec. 2, 2011 and hopes to begin her postdoctoral work at MIT in June. She will be studying how nutrient availablility impacts the development of microbial blooms in the ocean, which has important implications for global carbon cycling and ultimately the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.