I am a biologist passionate about understanding how life works and what can disturb life’s balance. My main research interests involve the effects of environmental stressors on innate immunity, metabolism, and host-pathogen interactions. Among some environmental stressors I have studied are algal toxins, drugs, hypoxia, pesticides, metal nanoparticles, and pathogens. My ultimate goal as a researcher is to use my expertise on environmental health to inspire future research, policymakers, and other citizens to realize that human, animal, and ecosystem health are tightly connected (One Health) and to promote the legislative and cultural changes necessary for preserving our most valuable resource, our planet.
During my B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. studies at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil), I demonstrated that harmful algal blooms and their toxins can disrupt immune cell (hemocyte) function of marine bivalves; and that drugs that suppress the antioxidant system alter oyster immunocompetence and susceptibility to Vibrio spp. infections. I have also provided evidence of the presence of V. splendidus and the oyster herpesvirus type 1 (OsHV-1) among oysters reared on the Southern Brazilian coast, both pathogens being associated with massive oyster mortality events in several countries. As a Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University (US), I focused on the effects of environmental pollutants such as metal nanoparticles and pesticides on mitochondrial function using mammalian cell culture and the invertebrate model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. In one of my studies I have found that the disruption of the mitochondrial metabolism of C. elegans by the pesticide rotenone results in the modulation of immunometabolic pathways and alters the nematode’s susceptibility to pathogens. Now, as a postdoc at LEMAR, I aim to develop a standardized oyster cell culture model to study the effects of environmental stressors on bivalve physiological mechanisms.