Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Gabby Ahmadia

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Gabby Ahmadia

Exploring Reef Ecosystems
Growing up in Hilo, Hawaii, Gabby Ahmadia snorkeled in crystal blue waters with her family. But it wasn’t until a 2003 international student exchange program in tropical marine biology in Townsville, Australia, where Ahmadia found her calling. The graduate research assistant, who explores areas of coral reefs and fish ecology, is pursuing her Ph.D. in Coastal and Marine Science Systems. For the last five summers, she has traveled to Indonesia to conduct research on cryptobenthic reef fish, described as understudied, camouflage organisms which are difficult to identify. By studying these fish, researchers can better understand reef ecosystems to make more informed management decisions. Indonesia is home to some of the planet’s most diverse marine species and coral reefs.  Recently, Ahmadia was named marine research coordinator in the Coral Reef Research Unit for Indonesia’s Opwall Marine Field Research Station. While there, she oversaw and provided guidance to students preparing their four-to-six week research projects. That same year, she conducted research alongside Dr. Frank Pezold on gobies (small fish) with the College of Micronesia and the Conservation Society of Pohnpei. Ahmadia has presented on topics including the thermal tolerance of pinfish and the effects of habitat degradation on cryptobenthic fish at meetings across Texas and at the Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Perth, Australia, which is held every four years. Ahmadia has received grants to fund her research including the American Museum of Natural History’s Lerner Grey Fund for Marine Research and the PADI Foundation. She has received several awards including the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society’s 2010 Ph.D. Student Scholarship Award. In addition, she is a 2009 Seaspace Graduate Scholar, a Choctaw Nation Merit Scholar from 2005-2010 and a member of the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Graduate Marine Science Organization. In her spare time, Ahmadia plays for the Coastal Bend women’s soccer league team, The Beaches, and enjoys running. One of her biggest accomplishments is completing a marathon in less than four hours.

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