Eva Aylagas

What is the aim of your PhD Research? The aim of my PhD project is the development of a DNA metabarcoding approach for the AZTI´s Marine Biotic Index (AMBI).  Our objective is to increase the speed and accuracy of the current time-consuming procedure needed to identify the organisms (visual taxonomy identification of marine macroinvertebrates) by analyzing the whole community through metagenetic methods.
What is the most appealing part of your PhD? It is really passionate to work in a new field that is widely applied by many other researchers in different places. I will have the opportunity of visiting different laboratories around the world and learning about the newest used methodologies.
How will your thesis contribute to DEVOTES project? My thesis is included in the WP5 ‘Innovative monitoring techniques’. During the project, we are focusing on the development of a new methodology based on metagenetics for monitoring. Thus, the success of this new approach will improve the cost-benefit compared with the current used methodologies for environmental status assessment.  
What do you consider your most important accomplishment here so far?  So far we have established the bases for the development of a genetic-based AMBI. During the 48th EMBS I presented a poster that contains the preliminary results of this study. Its high application made marine researchers attending the symposium being very interested about using this new methodology in their research studies.
What has been your most exciting experience in the project so far?  In the next few days I am travelling to Bocas de Toro (Panama). There I will work in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) with experts on metabarcoding from which I expect to learn methodologies and new point of views to be applied in my project. I am really excited about it and I hope to tell you about this experience when I am back. 
What other important information about yourself would you like us to know? Apart from the PhD in AZTI I have previous research experience in the field of marine biology. I finished my B.S. in Biology in Tenerife (Canary Islands). There, I had the chance of collaborate in a project on macroalgae, which gave me the opportunity of travelling to Baja California (Mexico), where I met really interesting people. After that, I collaborated during eight months as internship in the University of Galway (Ireland). I strongly recommend visiting this amazing place!
What I have concluded after my experience in marine science is that we are more than lucky of being involved in such amazing work!