Hanny Rivera is a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Oceanography in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Her research focuses on reef-building corals and their ability to tolerate elevated temperatures. The coral animal is highly sensitive to temperature changes and can die from prolonged exposure to warmer-than-usual waters. In her thesis, Hanny studies coral colonies that are more tolerant of temperature spikes. Using population genetics and genomics tools, she explores whether these corals may provide offspring to other reefs with less tolerant coral populations. Hanny also studies thermal tolerance in anemones, which are close relatives of corals. Coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse and valuable ecosystems; her research seeks to better understand how reefs will fare in the near future.
Hanny grew up snorkeling and SCUBA diving around Miami, Florida, where she developed a fond appreciation for the ocean. She received a BA in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University with a minor in Romance Languages and Literatures. Hanny is also passionate about environmental conservation and sustainability. During her time at MIT, she co-founded the Clean Earth Hackathon, in which NGO, government, and private organizations presented sustainability challenges in their respective industries for participants to solve. She is also the co-President of the Broader Impacts Group at WHOI, which helps Joint Program students improve their communication and outreach skills and better connect science and policy.
In her free time, Hanny volunteers at a local dog shelter. She enjoys running, riding motorcycles, practicing aerial yoga, and making her own environmentally friendly household cleaners.