M.S. in Marine Biology Students Selected as Student Ambassadors to PRIMO20 Symposium

M.S. in Marine Biology students Danielle Beers and Sarah Kell were among those selected as Student Ambassadors to the 20th International Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms (PRIMIO20) Symposium hosted in Charleston, SC this past May. The meeting brought together students and researchers from 22 countries to discuss marine pollution, mechanisms of toxicity, development of biomarkers, bio transformation, and other related topics.

To be selected as a Student Ambassador, the student needed to live in the Carolinas and have extensive knowledge of the area in order to best provide assistance. Both Beers and Kell were nominated by their advisors for their positions.

“My advisor encouraged me to apply and after consideration, I decided it would be a good way to meet other students, postdocs, and professional scientists working in the field, as well as help out behind the scenes.” Beers explains.

“Prior to the conference, we organized the student social and informal lunch topic discussions,” Kell says. “I also worked with one of the organizing committee members to provide recommendations on making the conference a zero waste event.”

At the conference, Beers and Kell assisted with registration, were available to provide information and assistance, and interface with students and researchers attending the conference. Beers would contact the Neighborhood House, a local soup kitchen, to donate lunch leftovers so there would be less food waste from the conference. Kell assisted with leading lunch discussions during the conference.

At the conference, both students received presented their work during the symposium. Beers presented “Comparing the Impacts of Ultraviolet Light-Enhanced Toxicity of Surface Oil Sheens on the Survival, Growth, and Development of Three Different Larval Fish Species, Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), Sheepshead Minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus), and Speckled Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus). Kell presented “Residence Time of Tire Wear Particles in the Gut and Gill of Grass Shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio”.

When asked what their biggest takeaways were from the symposium, they said:

Beers: “My biggest takeaway from PRIMO was the ability to see how much different research is going on around the world. All of the work occurring in different labs is very similar and yet, it is happening so far away from each other. It goes to show the interconnection of it all whether it is realized or not. It also opened my eyes a lot to the world of collaborations and teamwork. In my own experience, I was actually able to meet another student who was doing very similar work to mine in California and it was great to see that, although our methods were slightly different, we were getting the same results.”

“This experience enriched my time at CofC due to the ability to actively tell people about Charleston. Some scientists from other parts of the country/world had never been to Charleston, let alone South Carolina, and it gave me a chance to actually talk about the places I didn’t realize I loved until I had the opportunity to discuss it. It also assisted with getting to know how I present myself and my research to other scientists  in order to grow.  All in all, it helped me remember that the experiences that I have had/will have at College of Charleston are not all about me but more about the good that I am at least striving to do every day by getting a Master’s degree in Marine Biology.”

Kell: “What I loved the most about the symposium was the keynote speaker, Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation who eloquently weaved together how the health of the oceans is tied to the health of every other thing on this planet.  She was such an incredible and moving speaker and it was interesting to hear the environmental prospective of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and how climate change and things like urbanization are affecting their culture.”

“Being a student ambassador provided me the opportunity to work with an amazing group of postdocs, master’s and PhD students to help plan and execute a successful conference.  It also allowed me to really network with the greater conference group as a whole, helping to break the ice and engage in some insightful conversations.  If you get a similar opportunity offered, do not pass it up!”


For more information on the Master of Science in Marine Biology program, visit http://marinebiology.cofc.edu/ .

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