Dr. Mercer R. Brugler is an Associate Professor at NYC College of Technology (CUNY), which ranks #1 in ethnic diversity among northern regional colleges. In collaboration with Dr. Estefania Rodriguez (Curator of Marine Invertebrates), Mercer runs a molecular lab at the American Museum of Natural History where underrepresented minority high school students and undergraduates are submerged in deep-sea evolutionary biology. Mercer’s research program utilizes DNA to elucidate the evolution and diversity of black corals (Animalia: Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Hexacorallia: Antipatharia). Black corals hold the record for the deepest (8,600 m) and longest-lived (4,265 years old) coral. Mercer is also an adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU SPS DAUS, an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University’s SPS, and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Mercer earned a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at the University of Miami, Florida (1997-2001), a Master of Science in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory (2001-2004), and a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (2004-2011). Mercer was also a Gerstner Scholar and Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics (2011-2014).