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.