The REU program (Research Experience for Undergradutes) at Grice has officially kicked off. Ten students from all over the country (and world- one is here from Puerto Rico!) are spending 10 weeks assigned to a mentor who will aid them in doing various research projects. The summer will be filled with many exciting experiences for the REU’s which started with a Grice welcome cookout last Friday evening. Other opportunities will include workshops/lectures, mentor lunches, shark sampling, a weekend trip to the ACE Basin (ACE Basin – Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto Rivers), and alligator sampling. The summer will wind down with the REU’s presenting the outcome of their research projects at a Colloquium on August 5th.
On April 10, 2015, Dr. Mark Martindale from the University of Florida gave the 7th annual George D. Grice, Jr. Lecture. This special Ft. Johnson seminar honors the contributions of the Grice family to marine science. Mark’s talk, “Developmental Constraints and the Pattern of Animal Evolution,” covered his work on the relationship between genomic and morphological complexity in the evolution of animal form. His research covers the evolution of development, the evolution of novelty and complexity, and the relationship between development and regeneration.
The new tank system in the wet lab is now operational! Our old storage tanks, circa 1980s, were replaced with two new 500-gallon Polyethylene storage tanks. We installed a new filtration system that will make our sea water much cleaner. It will also eliminate some of the issues we had with bacteria, algae and diatom build-up. Water is now filtered through a 10um cartridge filter, activated carbon and a UV sterilization filter.
The wet lab continues to be utilized at near capacity with Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) parasite studies, Blue Crab/Diamondback Terrapin (Callinectes sapidus/Malaclemys terrapin) pot trials, Sea Spider (pycnogonid) sexual selection research, Snapping Shrimp (Alpheus heterochaelis) mating behaviors and invasive algae (Gracilaria vermiculophylla) culturing studies.
Madison Edwards joined the GML staff in March, 2015. She hails from Hilton Head Island, and is a recent graduate of the College of Charleston where she earned a BA in [African] History. She provides administrative support to both GML and the GPMB, including managing the social media accounts and attending Science Board meetings. She manages the application process for the REU program, as well as assisting with the applications for the GPMB. Her job duties include maintaining the dorms, recruiting for the GPMB, assisting with the CORAL program, providing tours for prospective students, as well as general office management. When she is not at work, you can find her emphatically cheering on her beloved sports teams, the Dallas Cowboys, USC Gamecocks and US Men’s National Soccer Team; eating Indian food, creating art or watching Netflix with her cat, Shaka Zulu.
Graduate Student Alyssa Demko has been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation- Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP) which includes a three-year annual stipend and a yearly cost of education allowance. This award allows for many opportunities for networking, also allowing the recipient to slightly alter the project they propose if their interests happen to change.
Alyssa is finishing up her Masters degree with Erik Sotka, looking at the effects of phylogeny and latitude on seaweed palatability. She is studying 50 seaweeds from several different parts of the world testing palatability through a series of feeding assays using emerald crabs and rock boring urchins. For the NSF-GRFP, Alyssa is proposing to expand her Masters work into a Ph.D. Congratulations, Alyssa!
Vanessa Bezy has conducted extensive research on sea turtles, spending much time doing so in Costa Rica. While at Grice, she worked with Graduate Program Director, Craig Plante, starting in Fall of 2011 and graduating in Spring of 2014. Below you can read her original journal article from PLOS ONE based on her Masters thesis research , as well as a summary article that she wrote summarizing the study. Vanessa is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis there will be investigating the sensory and behavioral cues associated with the mass nesting behavior in Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) at Ostional, Costa Rica. For more information about Vanessa, please visit her personal website (http://www.vanessabezy.com/Vanessa_Bezy/Home.html) or LinkedIn profile (www.linkedin.com/in/vanessabezy)
A new and exciting project will be underway at Grice this month. Groundbreaking will begin on a new wetland and bog garden located on the Southeast corner of the building. This project was spearheaded by graduate students Rebecca Balazs and Sharleen Johnson, with assistance from Lab Manager Greg Townsley. Rebecca and Sharleen wrote a proposal and received a small grant from the ECOllective Fund from CofC’s Office of Sustainability. The Garden will utilize condensation runoff from the HVAC chiller on Grice’s roof. This water will be piped to a small pond, then distributed to a couple of wetland container gardens, including one which will be an acidic bog where native carnivorous plants will reside. The large amount of condensate water was originally pooling on the east side of Grice, which could potentially damage the building. Construction will begin February 14, 2015. You can view the layout below.
Grice Professor, Erik Sotka, and Post-doctoral Fellow, Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, have recently written a short article in The Marine Biologist about the efforts of the Sotka lab studying the evolutionary ecology of an invasive red seaweed, Gracilaria vermiculophylla. They discussed the the mutualism formed between the alga and a decorator worm called Diaptra cuprea in the Southeastern US as well as the work they will be embarking on in 2015 sampling the extant range of the seaweed, both native and non-native. To learn more about their work, you can contact Erik ([email protected]) or Stacy ([email protected]). Also, visit the website for the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) http://www.mba.ac.uk/.
Summer is coming to a close as the ten REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) finish up their research experience here at Grice. The students arrived at the end of May from all over the country, as well as one from Puerto Rico, and will depart this week. They had a fun-filled summer working with mentors and graduate students on various projects including topics such as hammerhead sharks, snapping shrimp, sheepshead minnows, and horseshoe crabs. The Colloquium took place in the SCDNR Marine Resources Research Institute Auditorium where each REU got to present their research to Grice and SCDNR employees, staff and faculty.