Student Experiences: Frederich Lab

U N E student Aubrey Jane holds a crab

Aubrey Jane, M.S. ’23

I am a second-year graduate student at UNE, researching the thermal tolerance of larval lobsters in the context of a rapidly warming Gulf of Maine. The ultimate settlement and distribution of Maine’s most iconic critter is driven by thermal tolerance of these early life stages. My research at UNE broadly aims to link what occurs on a molecular level within these organisms to their distribution on a scale of kilometers. 

I am currently based at Bigelow Laboratory in East Boothbay, where I am rearing thousands of larval lobsters. The lobsters will all be taken back to UNE where I, along with a team of undergraduate students, will be able to measure the expression of specific genes, proteins, and lipids that can give us a better understanding of an early-stage lobster’s physiology and development. 

U N E student Melissa Butler stands in a tide pool wearing waiters

Melissa Butler, M.S. ’23

I am running experiments investigating dietary effects on thermal thresholds in the American lobster. Since January 2022, I have been maintaining 40 lobsters at UNE and have been feeding them two different diets: mussels to reflect the diet of a wild-caught lobster and herring to reflect feed in a lobster impoundment. 

Currently, I am running rapid progressive temperature challenges to determine the maximum temperature tolerated by lobsters in each feeding group. Additionally, I will be collecting heart tissue samples for gene expression of standard cellular stress markers. These laboratory analyses will help explain any differences in thermal thresholds observed between the groups. 

This research will assist in determining if diets can impact thermal tolerances and to better understand what type of feed generates lobsters with higher concentrations of lipids that are more favorable for human health. It’s been great having Dr. Frederich as my faculty advisor on this project.