Congratulations Graduate Poster Session 2014 Winners!

The close of the 2014 Graduate Education Week was marked by a wonderful showcase of student research at our 8th annual Graduate Poster Session on February 5th, 2014. Twenty six graduate students representing six of programs presented their respective research projects to an audience of students, faculty, and judges. The Graduate Poster Session was a great opportunity for students across a variety a disciplines to come together and share their interests with the graduate school community. We thank all of those students who participated in the session and congratulate our presentation winners: Briana Kloc, Bradley Blakemeyer, Alyssa Demko, Friedrich Knuth, and Andrea Margiotta. Check out their project descriptions below:

Humanities, Social Sciences, & Professional (tie)
Briana Kloc, Environmental Studies
Promoting Environmental Literacy with Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Developing a Case Study for Instructional Use
“We live in a dynamic world where the fields of biology and environmental science are rapidly changing. To keep up with current research, education should be focusing on teaching science literacy rather than purely content knowledge. At the poster session I presented how I am developing a case study for undergraduate biology and environmental science instructors to use in their classrooms based on my experience participating in NOAA’s Dolphin Health and Risk Assessment (HERA) Project. Case study-based learning gives science concepts real world context and promotes active learning which can help increase science literacy and ultimately help people engage in environmentally responsible behaviors. In the case study I present research from the Dolphin HERA Project and the 2013 dolphin morbillivirus outbreak along the U.S. to allow students to explore the potential for human-caused environmental degradation and its possible association with dolphin die-offs in the Atlantic. Students study topics of ecosystem ecology, endocrine physiology, immunology, and virology in jigsaw teams to determine possible factors in this current event and see connections between these various branches of biology.”

Bradley Blankemeyer, History
Policy and Praxis Among Jesuit Missionaries to Portuguese India, 1540-1630
“In my poster, I explained my MA thesis research project, which explores notions of toleration and accommodation among various missionaries to India during the period of the Counter or Catholic Reformation. I summarized the roots of the Society of Jesus, along with the establishment of the Portuguese Estado (‘State’) in India, and how the relationship between the king of Portugal and the pope granted Jesuits the opportunity to travel to and preach in India. It was here that many of the suspect ideas that had existed in Europe through Ignatius of Loyola, the Society’s founder, soon developed into controversial techniques by a handful of missionaries, such as Roberto de Nobili. I described the discussion among other scholars who have conducted research on the topic, as well as the broader implications of my thesis, which I hope to explore through the remainder of the semester and potentially build into a Ph.D. dissertation. Perhaps the most engaging aspect of my poster, at least according to those with whom I talked, was the section on pictorial depictions of Jesuit missionaries to India. This included an intriguing prayer card of Francis Xavier carrying an Indian and ‘leading him to safety on his shoulders’, and a painting of the killing of five Jesuit ‘martyrs’ at Cuncolim, a site where many temples had been destroyed by Portuguese authorities.”


Mathematics & Sciences (tie)
Alyssa Demko, Marine Biology
Are Tropical Urchins More Tolerant of Tropical Chemically-Defended Seaweeds Than Temperate Urchins? A Comparison of Populations of Arabacia punctulata


Friedrich Knuth, Environmental Studies
Predicting the Presence of Large Fish Using Acoustic Mapping of Bathymetric Geomorphic Features
“Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are critical in sustaining the resilience of fish populations to commercial fishing operations. The geomorphic and bathymetric environment of the MPA has been found to be predictive of biomass and fish populations. Using acoustic data to survey these areas promises efficiency, accuracy, and minimal environmental impact and will hopefully allow for the development of better fisheries management information. In July, 2013, I collected bathymetric, backscatter and water column data aboard the NOAA ShipPisces for 10 potential habitat sites along the U.S. Southeast Atlantic continental shelf. A total of 205 km2 seafloor were mapped between Mayport, FL and Wilmington, NC, using the SIMRAD ME70 and EK60 echo sounder systems. These data were processed in Caris HIPS, QPS FMGT, MATLAB, Echoview and ArcGIS. Using spatial analytics and statistics I aim to identify features of the bathymetry, such as depth, slope, slope of slope and curvature that can accurately predict the presence of large fish recorded in the water column. The success of this approach will greatly expedite fishery surveys, minimize operational cost and aid in making timely management decisions.”


People’s Choice
Andrea Margiotta, Marine Biology
Can Rugosity Be Used as a Management Tool to Reliably Characterize Vertical Habitat Complexity in South Carolina
” Habitat vertical complexity is an important physical feature of many marine systems (e.g., rocky intertidal, coral reefs, and bivalve communities) that can influence factors such as predator-prey interactions and recruitment.  High vertical structure on intertidal Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, reefs is beneficial to both fishery and habitat functions.  Quantifying related parameters, such as oyster size frequencies and associated fauna, typically requires destructive sampling (e.g., excavating quadrats).  Using the chain method to measuring reef rugosity (Rq) is an alternative, non-destructive method for quantifying vertical reef structure.  I am investigating the relationship between rugosity and factors such as oyster size frequencies, recruitment, and associated faunal assemblages.  Experimental trays were deployed at two sites in Charleston Harbor, Charleston, SC to examine whether oyster recruitment and associated faunal densities are related to vertical complexity (standardized by Rq measures).  After ten weeks, trays were collected and washed.  Spat were counted and measured and associated macrofauna are being identified, counted and measured.  Results of the present study will indicate whether the rugosity metric can serve as a management tool that characterizes the vertical complexity of oyster habitat and related reef attributes.”


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