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Amanda Semler



Address: University of Southern California, Department of Earth Sciences

825 Bloom Walk, ACB 302

Los Angeles, California 90089-0740



I’m a senior Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies double major interested in researching how microorganisms mediate biogeochemical cycles on local and global scales, especially in vulnerable marine communities.  I have a strong scuba diving background, including PADI Divemaster and AAUS certifications, and hope to integrate this passion with research.  I am currently applying to doctorate programs in geobiology for the Fall of 2017.

Two years ago, I received a Women in Science and Engineering fellowship and began working in the Amend Lab, geobiology being at the interface of my interests.  I was trained by former graduate student Lily Momper and began assisting her with a project on identifying and isolating novel deep subsurface bacteria.  We successfully isolated and characterized a member of the Spirochaetacea family–a novel genus and species–for a publication last year.  This spring, I’m working on a senior thesis involving a second isolation and characterization, this time of an iron reducer.

Research at USC



  1. Archaeology Research Center (2015-2016)

    • Tested various methods for detecting submarine groundwater discharge off the coast of Catalina Island in an attempt to locate freshwater sources for past civilizations

    • Measured offshore water conductivity during March 2015 to February 2016, ultimately identifying freshwater seeps in Toyon Bay and Ripper’s Cove on the island’s eastern side

  2. Andavadoaka, Madagascar – Volunteer Research Internship (Nov. – Dec. 2016)

    • Conducted inventories of 190 fish species to determine the ability of marine protected areas to mitigate climate-related damage to coral reef biodiversity

    • Taught a series of fifteen English courses to local students

  3. Madre de Dios, Peru – Field Hydrogeology Course (May 2016)

    • Collected water samples from seven tributaries of the Madre de Dios River

    • Analyzed ion concentrations and isotopic signatures to determine the water’s origin, and used seasonal changes to validate an existing elevation-based precipitation model for the understudied region

  4. USC Wrigley Marine Science Center (Spring 2014)

    • Collected substrate data along underwater transects in Big Fisherman Cove, Catalina Island, using scuba

    • Created a bathymetric and substrate map in ArcGIS, now used as an educational tool and as a reference for marine researchers at the WMSC facility

2010 - present

2010 - present

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