Dive right in…

My name is Heather Bruck, I am a senior at the University of South Carolina studying Biology and Marine Sciences. On this site you’ll find research I have been involved with, some photos and videos, and a blog I posted while studying at the University of the Virgin Islands in the spring of 2022. There is also a page for applying to the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship with some tips for anyone interested in applying. If you would like to learn more or just chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Recent Updates

December 1, 2022 – My Hollings internship was highlighted by NOAA’s Office of Education! I created a digital watercolor painting of my study organism, the Caribbean spiny lobster, that was shared on NOAA’s webpage along with a description of my work. During my graduate studies and beyond, I’d like to continue using art to communicate my research through visual arts and encourage public engagement with marine sciences. If you would like to read the article or check out the artwork, click here.

The digital watercolor painting of a Caribbean spiny lobster I created at the conclusion of my Hollings internship.

November 16 & 18, 2022 – I initiated, organized, and led an outreach event with SEAS (Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences) members and Dutch Fork Elementary Academy of Environmental Sciences. I have been training two students to become the next Education Outreach Coordinators for SEAS, and they were a big help with the outreach event. We spoke with four different 5th grade classes, discussing climate change and human impacts on the marine ecosystem. We dove deeper into oil spills and did a hands-on mock oil spill activity where the 5th graders explored various clean-up methods and observed how chemical dispersants can be used for oil clean-up.

SEAS members engaging with 5th graders during our mock oil-spill activity.

November 15, 2022 – A manuscript I am a co-author of was submitted to Frontiers in Marine Science! The headspace gas analysis I conducted and my maintenance of marine fungi samples while working in Dr. Xuefeng (Nick) Peng’s lab contributed to the manuscript. Hopefully the review process goes well and it can be accepted soon.


October 9, 2022 – I submitted my NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) application. This application involved a personal statement and a research proposal, and if awarded, it would provide a stipend for 3 years of graduate studies. My research proposal centered around the potential role of sea cucumbers, or holothurians, on larval coral recruitment and settlement success. There were many professors, graduate students, and friends who helped revise my essays- I am very grateful for all of their help. I will learn in early April 2023 if I am awarded the GRF or not, I am hoping for good news!


August 17, 2022 – I presented a poster at the Ecological Society of America and Canadian Society for Ecology & Evolution in Montreal, Canada. It was my first poster presentation and my first conference attendance! Travel to the conference was funded by the Magellan Voyager Grant, UofSC Honors College Travel Grant, and UofSC Biological Sciences Department.