Rachel Presley

PhD Candidate, University of Maine Darling Marine Center

Lehi, Utah, United States of America

Research Expertise

nitrogen biogeochemistry
nitrogen fixation
Water Science and Technology
Aquatic Science


# MY RESEARCH INTERESTS I am interested in biogeochemical cycling within marine sediments and the overlying water column, marine botany, and marine microbiology. For my doctoral dissertation, I studied the balance between competing nitrate reduction processes (denitrification, dnra, and anammox) in anoxic marine sediments using sediment thin disc experiments. As part of this work, I used molecular techniques to examine how microbial communities changed after the experiments and differed between treatments. In addition to this experimental work, I studied the microbial community composition of sediments along an estuarine gradient in the Damariscotta River Estuary during different seasons. For my master’s thesis, I studied the biogeochemistry and microbial communities associated with nitrogen fixation in seagrass beds. My thesis focused on the temporal changes of biological nitrogen fixation in the rhizospheres of *Thalassia testudinum*  and *Halodule wrightii* in Santa Rosa Sound, northwest Florida. My study included the assessment of nitrogenase activity, nutrient availability, and microbial assemblage using the *nifH* gene.  # MY PASSION I love the natural sciences, especially biology. Learning the various mechanisms and processes by which the natural world functions fascinates me. I love asking questions, and I believe that it facilitates the growth of my knowledge. During my childhood, my family and I would often travel to the Texas coast and visit aquariums. Even from a young age, I have always marveled at the wonder and beauty of the sea. Learning and discovering more about the ocean increases my interest and passion for marine science.  # MY BACKGROUND I was born and grew up in a rural area of northwest Texas. Until I left to attend the University of Texas at Austin to obtain my undergraduate degree, I lived on our family farm that my great-great-grandparents established after migrating to America from Switzerland. As a child, I was exposed to the wide open spaces of the Texas prairie. I have always loved the outdoors and nature. I attribute my adoration for the natural world to my upbringing in such a desolate and rugged place. Growing up, I learned how to ride horses and raise cattle. Without the conveniences of an urban locale, I obtained experience in building barns and homes and working on automobiles, amongst other necessary skills for life on the plains. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty nor work hard.


Nitrogen Fixation in Subtropical Seagrass Sediments: Seasonal Patterns in Activity in Santa Rosa Sound, Florida, USA

Journal of Marine Science and Engineering / Jul 14, 2021

Presley, R., & Caffrey, J. M. (2021). Nitrogen Fixation in Subtropical Seagrass Sediments: Seasonal Patterns in Activity in Santa Rosa Sound, Florida, USA. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 9(7), 766. https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse9070766

Biomass and Productivity of Thalassia testudinum in Estuaries of the Florida Panhandle

Gulf and Caribbean Research / Jan 01, 2023

Yarbro, L., Carlson, P., Heck, K., Byron, D., Brooke, S., Fitzhugh, L., Scolaro, S., Albrecht, B., Presley, R., & Caffrey, J. (2023). Biomass and Productivity of Thalassia testudinum in Estuaries of the Florida Panhandle. Gulf and Caribbean Research, 34, 69–78. https://doi.org/10.18785/gcr.3401.11


University of Maine

PhD in Chemical Oceanography, Oceanography


University of West Florida

MS in Biology, Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation / May, 2017


The University of Texas at Austin

BS in Marine & Freshwater Biology / May, 2014



University of Maine

Graduate Student Researcher / August, 2017Present

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