On Wednesday October 24th, graduate student Ian Combs proposed his Master’s thesis research as part of FAU's Department of Biological Sciences and was approved by his committee (Dr. Joshua Voss, Dr. Nichols Dickens, and Dr. M. Dennis Hanisak). His project focuses on characterizing the impacts of the newly described Scleractinian Tissue Loss Disease on corals in southeast Florida. He has been developing a new protocol to quantify rates of disease progression using a time and cost-effective method for 3D model generation. Ian's research is part of a multi-agency effort to better understand this highly destructive and poorly understood coral disease; please visit our previous blog post here to learn more about our lab's involvement in the disease response plan.
Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an annual competition held at over 200 universities worldwide where graduate students effectively convey their research to a non-specialist audience in three minutes or less, with only one powerpoint slide for back-up! The Voss Lab students competed in Heat 7 of Florida Atlantic University’s 3MT competition, hosted at FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
Ian was awarded “Runner-Up” for his talk entitled “Eulogy for the St. Lucie Reef” where he discussed his thesis research focused on the recent outbreak of Scleractinian Tissue Loss Disease on St. Lucie Reef as well as his research approaches including coral colony fate-tracking and gene expression studies to evaluate disease progression and corals’ physiological response.
Lexie was awarded “Second Runner-Up” for her talk entitled “Six Degrees of SepaREEFtion: Using molecular tools to assess coral genetic connectivity in Cuba and the Tropical Western Atlantic” where she discussed her dissertation research focused on evaluating the population structure and genetic connectivity of the coral, Montastraea cavernosa.
Ian and Lexie won scholarship awards to help support their research efforts and will be joining fellow HBOI graduate students: Heat 7 winner Kirstie Tandberg and People’s Choice winner René Miller-Xavier in advancing to the FAU 3MT Championship held at the Boca campus on Friday, November 2, 2018. Congratulations to Ian and Lexie and to all the other graduate students who participated in the 2018 3MT competition at FAU!
To see a video recording of the heat, please visit the FAU Graduate College Facebook page.
Over ten days Ph.D. student Alexis Sturm participated in the Student Workshop on International Marine and Coastal Management (SWIMM) in northern-central Cuba supported by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. During the SWIMM workshop she worked with a group of Cuban, Mexican, and American students to develop an Environmental Report Card that evaluates the effects of Hurricane Irma on various socio-ecological systems within Cuba’s Caguanes National Park. Teams of graduate students from these three countries worked with various stakeholders including fishermen, park managers, farmers, and community leaders to develop a series of indicators that evaluate the health of the ecological, geophysical, and socioeconomic systems within the park and surrounding areas. These students also got to have some fun too! They stayed with a community of farmers in Cuba’s first agro-tourism venture, La Picadora, and then traveled to a beach resort in Cayo Santa María to obtain a well-rounded view of how coastal tourism is developing in Cuba. The students then returned to Havana to present their findings at the MarCuba conference. The next year’s SWIMM workshop will be held in Mérida, Mexico. Anybody who is interested or has questions about the application process, please contact Lexie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAU Harbor Branch was well-represented at the MarCuba 2018 conference held from October 15-October 19 in Havana, Cuba. Harbor Branch researchers including John Reed and Dr. Joshua Voss, Dr. Shirley Pomponi, Dr. Cris Diaz, Dr. Dennis Hanisak, and graduate student Alexis Sturm, as well as Cuban collaborators including Linnet Busutil, Dorka Cobián, Dr. Beatriz Martínez-Daranas, and Dr. Patricia González all presented their work stemming from the 2017 CIOERT-supported research cruise to study Cuba’s mesophotic coral reefs. The researchers presented on mesophotic reef geomorphology, coral population connectivity, and fish, coral, sponge, and macroalgal biodiversity and community structure. The collaborators also spent time planning for a follow-up research cruise in 2019. A special thanks to all those who coordinated such a successful, international conference! For more information on the USA-Cuba Research Partnership to study Cuba’s mesophotic coral reefs and to see our MarCuba abstracts, please visit this link.