Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Courtney Anderson.
2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Biology
Mentor: John Pringle, Genetics

“Identifying the Pathways by which Chemicals Found in Common Sunscreens Induce Coral Bleaching and Death”

Sunscreens contain chemicals, such as oxybenzone, whose ecotoxicology on coral reefs is understudied but has raised enough concerns for bans to be enacted. Many stressors can disrupt the essential symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and their symbiotic algae (a process called coral bleaching), but the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind chemical-induced bleaching are not well understood. Using the small anemone Aiptasia as a model system and several different assays, Courtney will investigate the toxicity of various common sunscreen ingredients (such as avobenzone and titanium dioxide) and the pathways associated with Aiptasia’s natural response mechanisms against chemical stress.