Dr. Allan Strand received a Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is a collaborative grant aimed at engaging undergraduate students with answering genomic questions in an environmental context. Research will be focused on building a database of complex phenotypes for plant knockout mutants.
The Grice Marine Lab had a high profile at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB), held January 3 – 7, 2011, in chilly Salt Lake City, UT. Fourteen faculty members, postdocs, grad and undergrad students presented their research findings and mingled with more than 1400 other conferees at the Salt Palace Convention Center. New faculty member Dr. Andrew Clark chaired a well-attended afternoon session on “Adhesion and Locomotor Substrate Effects.” In other sessions, Dr. Alison Welch reported on body condition in gray tree frogs, while Dr. Agnes Ayme-Southgate linked molecular biology to the biomechanics of insect flight muscle and Dr. Eric McElroy revealed the impacts of tail autonomy on locomotion in grass lizards. Dr. Bob Podolsky, graduate student Sammi Smoot, and undergraduates Diego Castro and Gabe Segarra presented their data on antimicrobial and antipredator defenses and tether strength in molluscan egg masses. Graduate students Nat Johnson, Kris Stover and Casey Darling discussed their work with Drs. Lou and Karen Burnett on antimicrobial and antioxidant defenses and on locomotion in crustaceans. Burnett lab postodoctoral fellow Dr. Kristin Hardy summarized recent studies on molecular adaptations to hypoxia in blue crabs. Outside the formal sessions, the Grice group took advantage of opportunities to network and discuss the research with their peers and enjoy some of the local sites and even, for some, a little skiing.
South Carolina Aquarium’s very first rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle was recaptured this summer off the Georgia coast; this is only the second recapture out of over fifty releases. Loggerheads are endangered sea turtles and each summer many large females visit Charleston’s beaches to nest. The adult male loggerhead recaptured was considered healthy and ready to mate. Dr. David Owens, professor and researcher at the College of Charleston, considers this recapture after a decade to be remarkable. Nicknamed “Stinky,” this loggerhead is proof that rehabilitation does indeed work. Read more about Stinky’s story or track other sea turtle’s travels.
Dr. Louis and Karen Burnett presented their research findings at the Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World conference of the American Physiological Society this August in Colorado. The Burnett Laboratory studies the effects of high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels on marine organisms. Organisms with environmental stresses as these have been shown to display a decrease in their metabolism and are unable to efficiently fight off infections. The marine organisms they study are accustomed to environmental stresses such as these and are still showing compromised immune systems. Therefore, it is shocking to think of the stresses deep water organisms could be facing with decreased oxygen levels coupled with high carbon dioxide. With scientists focusing their attention on the risks of ocean acidification, the Burnett laboratory’s research may provide a peak into these possible dangers the animals and their environments may face. For more information please visit the full article.
Dr. Scott Harris, a Geology professor at the College of Charleston, was interviewed by the ETV program The Big Picture. On Friday, August 5th, they discussed the Oil Spill in the Gulf and highlighted drilling for oil off the coast of South Carolina. According to Scott, the structure of the ocean floor off the South Carolina coast suggests that it would not supply substantial deposits of oil or natural gas. Therefore, it would be not economically viable to extract such energy sources from South Carolina’s outer shelf.
Dr. Erik Sotka received a 2010 Fulbright Senior Scholarship and will conduct a study at the University of New South Wales in Australia on seaweed-herbivore interactions for the next four months. Please click here for more information about his study.
When will the oil make it to South Carolina’s coast? Nobody knows. Dr. Jack DiTullio, College of Charleston professor and oceanographer, communicated the difficulty of predicting which way the oil may travel. He explains how the physics of the ocean’s currents are erratic and quite complicated. Numerous scientists are working around the clock in order to predict different scenarios of oil travel. Dr. DiTullio believes that the winds would have to shift and come from the north in order for the oil to make it to South Carolina’s coast.
Dr. Louis Burnett, director of Grice Marine Laboratory and College of Charleston professor, has been named one of the College’s leading experts on the oil spill crisis. On May 18, 2010 he attended the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington, DC regarding this environmental catastrophe. Dr. Burnett expressed his concern for Charleston’s fragile marsh ecosystem, if the oil makes it further north.
Iris Kemp is a graduating senior in the College of Charleston Honors College, with a marine biology major and a double minor in chemistry and psychology. She was recently presented with two South Carolina Academy of Science (SCAS) Sigma Xi Awards; one award for best oral presentation and the other for best poster presentation in the topics of Field Biology and Environmental Science and Biological Oceanography. She is the first SCAS participant to be given two awards in different topics within a single year.
Iris works on the systematics of the marine hatchetfish, Polyipnus tripanos, under the guidance of Dr. Antony Harold. Their analysis of this group produced strong evidence of a new species. She also completed an independent study based on data she had collected over the course of a previous summer research experience. That project focused on the effects of urban structure on fish distribution and density in the Hudson River and was mentored by Dr. Gorka Sancho.
GPMB adjunct faculty member, Dr. A. Frederick Holland, received the 2009 Environmental Awareness Award on Wednesday, March 31, 2009. Mr. Scott English, Governor Mark Sanford’s Chief of Staff, presented the award on the Governor’s behalf at the Harbison State Forest Environmental Education Center. This award recognized Dr. Holland’s outstanding contributions toward the protection, conservation and improvement of the state’s coastal environment. Fred Holland was the director of the Marine Resources Research Institute (SCDNR) before he became the director of the Hollings Marine Laboratory (NOAA) in 2001. During his presentation, Mr. English said, “Fred Holland is not just a steward of natural resources in South Carolina, he is a pioneer and in some cases, a national trend-setter for protecting and preserving our coastal resources. Fred’s legacy is important for two reasons. He has been able to translate in-depth scientific research for policymakers and the average person in making decisions that affect our communities. At the same time, he has mentored a new generation of marine scientists who will carry on his work in marine sciences.”
Dr. Victor Burrell, an alumni and adjunct faculty member of the College of Charleston passed away on December 20, 2009. He researched and published several scientific papers and histories of important South Carolina fisheries. Dr. Burrell played an integral part in the organization of the South Carolina Fisheries Workers Association and served on the founding board of the South Carolina Aquarium. In 2007, he was chosen as the Fishery Conservationist of the Year by the South Carolina chapter of the American Fisheries Society. A memorial by Dave Bushek was published in the quarterly newsletter of the National Shellfish Association.