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, Ryan JP, Hayashi K, Woods AL, Marin III R, Smith GJ, Hubbard KA, Doucette GJ, Mikulski CM, Gellene AG, 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.
- Bowers HA, Marin III R, Birch JM and Scholin CA. 2017. Sandwich hybridization probes for the detection of Pseudo-nitzschia (Bacillariophyceae) species: an update to existing probes and a description of new probes. Harmful Algae 70:37-51.
- Bowers HA, Marin R III, Birch JM, Scholin CA and Doucette GJ. 2016. Recovery and identification of Pseudo-nitzschia (Bacillariophyceae) frustules from natural samples acquired using the environmental sample processor (ESP). Journal of Phycology 52:135-140.
- Bowers HA, Messick GA, Hanif A, Jagus R, Carrion L and Schott EJ. 2010. Physicochemical properties of double-stranded RNA used to discover a reo-like virus from blue crab (Callinectes sapidus). Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 93:17-29.
- Ryan JP, Kudela RM, Birch JM, Blum M, Bowers HA, Chavez FP, Doucette GJ, Hayashi K, Marin III R, Mikulski CM, Pennington JT, Scholin CA, Smith GJ, Woods A and Zhang Y. Causality of an extreme harmful algal bloom in Monterey Bay, California during the 2014-2016 northeast Pacific warm anomaly. Geophysical Research Letters 44(11).
- Smith J, Gellene AG, Hubbard KA, Bowers HA, Kudela RM, Negrey K and Caron DA. 2018. Pseudo-nitzschia species composition varies concurrently with domoic acid concentrations during two different bloom events in the Southern California Bight. Journal of Plankton Research 40:29-45.