While researching bryozoans, marine organisms, from the unprecedented transoceanic biological rafting event caused by the 2011 Japanese tsunami, Megan McCuller found the opportunity to use an SEM at a nearby college in Maine. She produced this image of a suctorian, an aquatic organism she was simply interested in seeing up close and then decided to try colorizing for the JEOL Image Contest. She also took more than 30 images for her research, some of which will be published in January.
She explains, “My work on Japanese tsunami marine debris (JTMD) was through Williams College and the Williams College - Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program with Dr. James T. Carlton, who is the former director of the maritime studies program and PI of the JTMD project. I did general analysis of JTMD samples, picking and sorting organisms, but am also the bryozoan taxonomist.”
McCuller is currently an adjunct in the Biology department at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), teaching classes for the Marine Science program (Invertebrate Zoology, Ecology, Marine Biology). “Coincidentally, I mentioned to a colleague, Brian Tarbox, at SMCC that I might run into issues with my manuscript on JTMD bryozoans by not having any SEM photos (it's now the staple of accurate identification of bryozoans) and he told me we have a grant agreement with Bates College and put me in contact with Greg Anderson who runs the SEM lab at Bates. Since being introduced to Greg, I spent a good number of hours taking hundreds of SEM photos of my bryozoan specimens and have brought my SMCC students to Bates to get experience using SEM.
“The suctorian picture was one of my ‘fun’ photos that doesn't really have a purpose other than my interest to see what a suctorian looks like up close.” The image went on to become the winner for JEOL’s December 2017 Image Contest. She also shared a compound scope image to compare.
Megan is currently applying for PhD programs, but is already a co-author on a paper published in October. “My manuscript on JTMD bryozoans is supposed to be published in January in a special JTMD edition of the journal Aquatic Invasions, which is open access.”