The Biology Bus

Oct. 2016

This summer, Nancy Foster Scholarship alumna Dr. Nyssa Silbiger and her colleague Piper Wallingford researched the impacts of climate change on tidal ecosystems in several West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Key to their research was their mobile lab, the Bio Bus! Check out our video to learn about their adventures and research in national marine sanctuaries, and learn more about how you can become a Nancy Foster Scholar here!


My name is Nyssa Silbiger, and I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine and an alumna of the Nancy Foster Scholarship program.

My name is Piper Wallingford, and I'm a PhD student in the Sorte Lab at the University of California, Irvine.

Hi! I'm Nyssa. I'm Piper. And we got some requests to show you our van so that's what we're going to do right now.

So this here, this is Becky the Bio Bus. She is a 2002 Eurovan Winnebago, and pretty much the coolest thing ever. So the inside is really awesome.

First we have over here, we've got our own refrigerator. And we have a stove right over here. We have shades, all sorts of cool little reading lights.

We have two different beds. First we have the pop-up. Which you open with your head. You have to open it with your head. There we go.

You can pretty much fit four people in here. You can fit two people up there and then two people down here.

This chair swivels around so that we can actually sit at the table together. This is our pantry so that we have all of our dry foods.

So it's pretty much everything you've ever wanted, all put together into one different van.

So thank you so much for joining us on our little tour and we are excited to continue to stay in the Bio Bus!

My research broadly focuses on the interaction between climate change and the natural variability of coastal marine ecosystems. Because environmental conditions in these locations are so stressful, it's important to understand how climate change will affect the organisms that live there. Intertidal means between the tides.

So in this ecosystem, during the low tides, these organisms are exposed to air, while during the high tide they are covered with water creating quite an extreme environment to put up with.

The best thing about working in a marine sanctuary is being able to study these organisms in a protected habitat. Many of the species that I'm interested in are collected along the West Coast, but by conducting surveys at MPAs, I can help establish baselines of nondisturbed distribution patterns.

Understanding how plants and animals change their environment can help us to better understand how climate change, which is also changing the chemistry of the water, will impact our coastal marine ecosystem.