This past summer, undergraduate student Haley Tholen completed an internship on a Caribbean island called Curacao in alignment with Dr. Amy Wagoner Johnson's research for coral reef restoration using additive manufacturing techniques. Before leaving the country for a few months, Haley decided to get certified in scuba diving so that she could see the environment for which she was striving to improve with her own eyes.
"It was a dream come true for me," she says. "Not only was I able to utilize and teach people about 3D printers, I also had the privilege to tag along on the majority of the field work. I learned so much in a short period of time about myself and how to more effectively communicate my ideas to non-engineers."
Haley described the series of events to be: night diving to collect gametes from coral spawn, waiting for the gametes to fertilize and turn into larvae, and then use the substrates she created using a clay extrusion 3D printer to test the behavior of larvae during settlement.
Haley also brought substrates from the Wagoner Johnson lab with the purpose of testing different surface textures and materials. The objective is to optimize substrates by modeling and prototyping microhabitats to increase settlement and survival rates.
The project is just getting started, and Haley is extremely excited to continue working with Dr. Amy Wagoner Johnson and the collaborators in Curacao to replenish coral reefs.
Follow our journey!