Jessica Flesher's summer research is focused on using protein genetic sequences to identify mechanisms for coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is the process by which dinoflagellate algal symbionts are lost from the host coral or, in the Weis lab, the anemone Aiptasia pallida. The proteins Flesher has identified are involved in the apoptosis (programmed cell death) pathway and autophagy (whereby the symbiont is degraded by the host cell). Additional research will comprise observing the effects of heat on symbiosis. Flesher will investigate this research question by comparing genetic expression among proteins extracted from anemones exposed to varying inclubation durations and temperatures. Flesher hopes that her findings will reveal information that will lead to a better understanding of the coral bleaching phenomenon.