Katherine Dougan pursued her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Rodriguez-Lanetty at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, where she researched the diversity and transcriptional activity of insulin-like peptides in cnidarians, especially corals. Her PhD research also focused on the genomic sequencing and analysis of the thermotolerant coral symbiont Durusdinium trenchii, exploring the link between extensive genome duplication and the acquisition of thermotolerance in this ecologically important species. During her PhD, Katherine also worked on the Science Team for the NASA Extreme Environment Missions Operations (NEEMO) program, a space analog program combining astronaut training with scientific research at the Aquarius Reef Base, the only underwater research habitat in the world. Over the course of her five year participation, she was heavily involved in not only the coral research, but also missions operations and astronaut training. Katherine began her postdoctoral training with Dr. Cheong Xin Chan in 2020 where she is investigating genomic signatures of adaptive selection in coral symbionts from the family Symbiodiniaceae, as well as continuing her research on the genomic evolution and acquisition of thermotolerance in coral symbionts.

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