Going Back To Her Roots: A Visit to East Bay High School by Dr. Rachael Heuer

This past April, Dr. Rachael Heuer, a postdoctoral researcher with the RECOVER consortium, went back to her teaching roots and visited Easy Bay High School in Gibsonton, Florida. Dr. Heuer taught Biology, Ecology, and Advanced Placement Environmental Science at the school from 2007 – 2010, prior to beginning her graduate degree with the Grosell Lab at University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Collaborating with former colleague, Mrs. Michelle Laycock, Rachael reflects on returning to her former school:

“My experience teaching at East Bay fundamentally shaped how I think and communicate as a scientist. My visit brought back many fond memories of teaching moments with students and working with great colleagues like Mrs. Laycock.”


Originally slated to visit with 2-3 classes, Rachael visited with five classes of students in both Marine Science and Advanced Placement Environmental Science. Her visit consisted of educating students on the research she does for RECOVER and in the Grosell Lab, as well as having students interact with mahi mahi embryos and Aplysia – also known as the California Sea Hare.  Rachael studies how crude oil impacts heart cells from the mahi-mahi, as well as the physiological and behavioral responses in Aplysia following ocean acidification. Both mahi and Aplysia are grown and reared at University of Miami Experimental Hatchery and University of Miami National Institute of Health’s Resource for Aplysia, respectively.


Students in Mrs. Laycock’s marine science class are no strangers to RECOVER research. Within the past year, her students have participated in the RECOVER virtual lab lessons, which enable her students to research how crude oil impacts the swimming abilities in mahi mahi and red drum, as well as be confident in communicating science to their peers. Additionally, Mrs. Laycock showed her classes the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative’s  documentary Dispatches from the Gulf.


A great day was had by all with high youth STEM engagement, especially when it came to interacting with the animals. Thank you Mrs. Laycock and Easy Bay High school for welcoming Rachael back and educating students about her passion.