Kerry Whittaker picture

Kerry Whittaker

Department: Ocean Studies
Title(s):

· Visiting Professor/Instructor

Phone: 207-326-2173
Email: kerry.whittaker@mma.edu
Office: 101 Dirigo House
Office Hours: W (11:00 PM - 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM), F (9:00 AM - 11:00 AM) & BY APPT (Any Day)
[Zoom link: https://mainemaritime.zoom.us/j/98116446448?pwd=aUFKeE5QMVFVUDVvb1RBU0xhMDFRdz09]

Bio

Kerry Whittaker is the Visiting Sawyer Professor in the Ocean Studies Department. Her role at MMA is to help develop the new Coastal and Marine Environmental Science Major. Prior to joining MMA, Kerry was an Assistant Professor of Oceanography at Sea Education Association (SEA). At SEA, she sailed as Chief Scientist for multiple SEA Semester programs aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer and SSV Robert C. Seamans, two 134ft tall ships sailing, conducting oceanography, and offering academic semester programs for undergraduates in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. She has also held a role as Faculty Chair of Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG), a place-based semester school in Maine focusing on marine science and leadership education for high school girls. Kerry has previously taught courses in evolution and marine science Bates and Bowdoin Colleges. In 2014, Kerry was awarded a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship where she worked for NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, advancing endangered species listings under the US Endangered Species Act.

B.A. in English and Environmental Science from Colby College (2008)
Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island (2014)

Block Schedule:

Hello!  Thanks for visiting!  I am the Sawyer Visiting Professor in Maine Maritime Academy’s Corning School of Ocean Studies.  My role in Ocean Studies is to help develop the new Coastal and Marine Environmental Science (CMES) major. I’m excited to help build a dynamic and interdisciplinary curriculum for CMES that weaves together concepts of marine and environmental science, policy, resource management, and conservation.

I teach classes related to oceanography and environmental science including:

  • Introduction to Oceanography and Environmental Science (OS101)
  • Introduction to Biology (laboratory) (BI101)
  • Coastal Resource Management (OS321)
  • Land Margin Ecosystems (OS225)

My research focuses on the ecological, physical, and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain diversity in the ocean, particularly among marine microbes. I have experience in the use of marine molecular ecology (DNA analysis) and population genetics to explore diversity on a variety of evolutionary scales and across taxa and marine ecosystems (from diatoms to dragonfish, polar regions to the mesopelagic).  My first and true love are the phytoplankton, especially diatoms.  I gained experience in marine policy as a 2014 Knauss Fellow placed in the Office of Protected Resources at NOAA (the office responsible for advancing marine endangered species listings). I am also passionate about experiential science education and seek to develop ways to merge oceanographic research with interdisciplinary undergraduate education.  I believe the act of conducting science at sea offers a profound perspective of our role and impact as humans on this very blue planet.  I love sharing the experience of scientific inquiry and sea-going field work with students, wherever possible.

Prior to joining MMA, I was an Assistant Professor of Oceanography at Sea Education Association (SEA). At SEA, I sailed as Chief Scientist for multiple SEA Semester programs aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer and SSV Robert C. Seamans, two 134ft tall ships sailing, conducting oceanography, and offering academic semester programs for undergraduates in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Prior to joining SEA, I was the Faculty Chair of Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG), a place-based semester school in Maine focusing on marine science and leadership education for high school girls.  She also taught marine ecology courses at Bates College. I am also a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship alumna (2014) where I worked for NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, advancing endangered species listings under the US Endangered Species Act.  I received a B.A. in English and Environmental Science from Colby College (2008), and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island (2014).  I am drawn to opportunities that push me out of my comfort zone, and force me to connect ideas and skills across disciplines! I encourage my students to do the same. For more details, please check out my CV: Whittaker, Kerry CV

Feel free to check out some selected media highlighting some of my research, interests, and experience:

At-sea experience:

  • Fall, 2019; Sustainability in Polynesian Cultures and Ecosystems Program, South Pacific, American Samoa to New Zealand via Tonga and Fiji, SSV Robert C. Seamans
  • Spring 2018, 2019; Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Program, Sargasso Sea, SSV Corwith Cramer
  • Fall 2017, 2018; The Global Ocean Program, New Zealand to Kermadec Islands, SSV Corwith Cramer
  • Winter, 2016; Antarctica, Southern Ocean, R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer
  • Spring, 2013; Antarctica, Southern Ocean, R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer
  • Summer, 2012; Station ALOHA Hawaii, R/V Kilo Moana
  • Spring, 2012; Gulf of Alaska, R/V Thomas T. Thompson
  • Spring, 2009; Gulf of Mexico, R/V Endeavor

Publications:

Hite, E.B., Garvin, J., Slayback, D., Burke, E.A., Callahan, G., Joyce, P. and Whittaker, K., 2020. Exploring the human-nature dynamics of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai, Earth’s newest landmass. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, p.106902. *SEA Semester student author

Govindarajan, A.F., Cooney, L., Whittaker, K.A., Bloch, D.*, Burdorf, R.*, Canning, S.*, Carter, C.*, Cellan, S.M.*, Erikson, F.*, Freyer, H.*, Huston, G.*, Hutchinson, S.*, McKeegan, K.*, Malpani, M.*, Merkle-Raymond, A.*, Oulette, K.*, Petersen-Rockney, R.*, Schultz, M.*, Siuda, A.N.S. 2019. The distribution and mitochondrial genotype of the hydroid Aglaophenia latecarinata is correlated with its Sargassum substrate type in the Sargasso Sea. Peer J. *SEA Semester student author

Whittaker, K.A., Schell, J., Goodwin, D., Siuda, A.N.S. 2019. Molecular divergence of holopelagic Sargassum species using extensive field samples from the tropical and subtropical Atlantic.  Extended Abstract.  Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Book of Abstracts.  71st Annual.

Whittaker, K.A., T.A. Rynearson. 2017. Evidence for environmental and ecological selection in a microbe with no geographic limits to gene flow. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114:10.

Whittaker, K.A., 12-month Findings for the African coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) and Eastern Taiwan Strait population of the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis). 2015. Federal Register.  FR 17398 and FR 21182

Whittaker, K.A. and Young, C. Endangered Species Act status review report for the Taiwanese Pink Dolphin (Sousa Chinensis). Report to National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources. March 2017. 42 pp.

Whittaker, K.A. Endangered Species Act status review report for the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae). Report to National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources. October 2014. 47 pp

Whittaker, K.A., 90-day finding for the common thresher shark (Alopia vulpinus), 2014. United States, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  80 FR 11379.

Durham, B., Grote, J., Whittaker, K., Bender, S., Luo, H., Grim, S., Brown, J., et al. 2014. Draft genome sequence of marine alphaproteobacterial strain HIMB11, the first cultivated representative of a unique lineage within the Roseobacter clade possessing an unusually small genome. Standards in Genomic Sciences. 9:3.

Boyd P.W., T.A. Rynearson, E.A., Armstrong, F-X. Fu, K. Hayashi, Z. Hu, D.A. Hutchins , R.M. Kudela, E. Litchman, M. R. Mulholland, U. Passow, R.F. Strzepek, K.A. Whittaker, E. Yu and M.K. Thomas. 2013. Marine Phytoplankton Temperature versus Growth Responses from Polar to Tropical Waters – Outcome of a Scientific Community-Wide StudyPloS One.  8:5.

Whittaker, K.A., Rigannese, D.R., Olson, R.J., Rynearson, T.A.. 2012. Molecular subdivision of the marine diatom Thalassiosira rotula in relation to geographic distribution, genome size, and physiology. BMC Evolutionary Biology.  12:209.