Tessa Peixoto

I am currently studying and describing the armor morphology of the fish family Agonidae, commonly referred to as Poachers. The family is comprised of bottom dwelling  fish that have armored scales covering the entirety of the their body. The question that I and my colleagues are asking is if the armor was for primarily protection or defense, why do the armored scales in each species look entirely different. The project being completed at the moment is focusing on the armor of a specific fish, Agnopsis vulsa. They are not the largest or smallest fish in this fish family, but have the most general body shape for that family making it suitable to use as a comparison model. I have described its armor and tested the rigidity through material testing, in hopes to create a baseline understanding of the armored to then create room for more in depth studies.

The Poacher armor research has fed into a growing fascination of mine regarding the development of armor in all fish species and if it can provide insight into the hardened, spiky denticles in freshwater stingrays that vary in size, shape, number, and placement. The reason I want to connect it to freshwater stingrays is due to a research assistantship I had the summer of 2016. I was introduced to numerous freshwater stingray species, of which I kept noticing there were these enlarged denticles that weren’t specific to a species, nor wouldn’t cluster in the same spot on the “ affected” individuals. By being able to stay connected to my passion for Chondrichthyans (sharks, rays, and skates) and continuing to study different animals, I can better aid in the conservation of the environment.

I am looking to pursue a masters degree (or the right PhD) that could combine scientific study and conservation or resource management. It would give me the room to continue improving my scientific skill set and gain training in communication, and management. Once achieved or even during the completion of my graduate study I would like to have a position with or partner with a museum to use the fish collection for research and education. Such a position would provide the facilities to enforce what I have learned, what I can learn, and how I can share that knowledge with the public to increase environmental literacy.

Learn more at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tessalpeixoto/