Holly received her BS from Salisbury State University (Maryland), MS from the Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) and her PhD from the University of Kalmar (Sweden). Her graduate work focused on development of genetic assays (qPCR) to detect and monitor Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) species. For nine years, she provided the Maryland Department of Resources with weekly HAB data in order to inform management decisions and track short and long-term trends. After a 2-year post-doc (Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, Baltimore) focused on detecting viruses in wild and cultured blue crabs, she accepted a post-doc fellowship at MBARI (2012-2016). While there, she continued her work on HAB detection, shifting to the domoic acid-producing genus Pseudo-nitzschia. She joined Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2016 as Research Faculty to continue her work on HABs in Monterey Bay. She also serves as co-chair of the National HAB Committee (2018-2021) and as a Subject Editor for the journal Harmful Algae.
Holly’s research interests have focused on molecular detection of harmful algal bloom (HAB) species and diversity in estuarine systems, including Chesapeake and Monterey Bays. HABs have become a recurring nuisance along the world’s coastlines and inland lake systems, affecting local economies through impacts on food/drinking water supplies and recreation. Tools that provide rapid, high-resolution data on species presence and abundance are key to ongoing monitoring programs to protect these areas. Taking it a step further, it is just as important to uncover information on how HAB species fluctuate with respect to population structure in between bloom events. Myriad factors can influence species composition, toxin production, and duration of bloom events - molecular fingerprinting plays a key role in untangling this complicated picture.
As part of the Environmental Biotechnology lab at MLML, Holly is also participating in the long-standing Alliance for Coastal Technologies initiative, a NOAA-funded partnership of research institutions, resource managers, and private sector companies dedicated to fostering the development and adoption of effective and reliable sensors and platforms for use in coastal, freshwater and ocean environments.
- Bowers HA, Pachon X, von Ammon U, Gemmell N, Stanton JL, Jeunen GJ, Sherman CDH and Zaiko A. 2021. Towards the optimization of eDNA/eRNA sampling technologies for marine biosecurity surveillance. Water 13(8), 1113; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081113.
- Bowers HA, Richlen M, Anderson D, Hill P, Kostel K, Davis T, Ayres D, Fanara T, Hubbard K, Kirkpatrick B, Lansing M, Raymond H and Wichman R. 2020. Insights from the first US HAB Symposium Science Communication Workshop. In: Harmful Algae News No. 66, [Eds: B. Reguera, E. Bresnan].
- Bowers HA, Ryan JP, Hayashi K, Woods AL, Marin III R, Smith GJ, Hubbard KA, Doucette GJ, Mikulski CM, Gellene AG, Yanwu Z, Kudela RM, Caron DA, Birch JM and Scholin CA. 2018. Diversity and toxicity in Monterey Bay Pseudo-nitzschia species: perspectives from targeted and adaptive sampling. Harmful Algae 78:129-141.
- Nishimura T, Murray JS, Boundy MJ, Balci M, Bowers HA, Smith KF, Harwood DT and Rhodes LL. 2021. Update of the planktonic diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia in Aotearoa New Zealand coastal waters: genetic diversity and toxin production. Toxins, 13, 637. https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins13090637
- Stauffer BA, Bowers HA, Buckley E, Davis T, Johengen TH, Kudela RM, McManus MA, Purcell H, Smith GJ, VanderWoude A and M Tamburri. 2019. Considerations in Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Monitoring: Perspectives From a Consensus-Building Workshop and Technology Testing. Frontiers in Marine Science, 16 July 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00399.
- Zaiko A, von Ammon U, Stuart J, Smith KF, Yao R, Welsh M, Pochon X and Bowers H. 2022. Assessing the performance and efficiency of environmental DNA/RNA capture methodologies under controlled experimental conditions. Methods in Ecology and Evolution https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13879