Friends of Long Marine Lab supports 17 student research projects

group photo of award winners
Winners of the 2015 Friends of Long Marine Lab Student Research and Education Awards were recognized in a ceremony at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. (Photo by Katherine Moore)

Albatrosses, sea otters, harmful algal blooms, and sea level rise are among the subjects of the 17 student research projects that will be supported this year by the Friends of Long Marine Lab Student Research and Education Awards. The awards will provide a total of $12,515 in research funding for the student projects, which were selected by a proposal review committee.

Committee chair Bob Simpkins said, "What we ultimately awarded was travel up and down the states of California and Oregon, visits to the Channel Islands, the Sea of Cortez, the Arctic Ocean, the Caribbean, and Spain to study crabs, krill, otters, layers of rock, sea lions, dolphins, birds, fish, abalone and sea levels. We funded the purchase of cameras, foul weather gear, spotting scopes, sea lion whiskers, feathers, pipettes, French square bottles, and dolphin gut bacteria. It's amazing what $12,500 can buy!"

The award recipients were recognized at a ceremony and reception at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center on Thursday, January 29. In addition, the Friends of Long Marine Lab will honor the top two student research award recipients -- Juliano Calil, a graduate student in ocean sciences, and undergraduate Emily Slesinger -- with a special award to be presented at the annual Global Oceans Awards Gala in March at the University Center.

The Friends of LML provides funding for public education, marine mammal programs, and student research, as well as the development and operation of the Seymour Center. The Student Research and Education Awards are made possible from annual income on six endowed funds: Jane McHenry Student Award, Lillian McPherson Rouse Award, Friends of Long Marine Lab Student Support, Mark T. MacMillan Memorial Prize, Ken Norris Marine Mammal Research Award, and William Beye Heald Scholarship Fund.

The winning student researchers and their projects are as follows:

Kathryn Morgan Beheshti, "Salt Marsh Loss vs. Resilience: The Role of Sea Level Rise, Crab Abundance, and Their Interaction" (Pete Raimondi and Kerstin Wasson, advisers)

Juliano Calil, "Risk Assessment and Climate Adaption Alternatives for Coastal Communities Vulnerable to Flooding" (Gary Griggs, adviser)

Jenna Conner, "Salinity Regulates Vibrio cholerae Biofilm Formation via a Novel C-di-GMP Receptor" (Fitnat Yildiz, adviser)

Gina Marie Contolini, "Evolution in Acid: Local Adaptation to Seawater pH May Affect a Predator-Prey Interaction" (Eric Palkovacs and Pete Raimondi, advisers)

Michelle K. Drake, "What Drove the Size of Ice Sheets and Glaciers during the Ice Age" (Christina Ravelo, adviser)

Natasha Dudek, "The Role of Gut Bacteria in Maintaining Dolphin Health (Tursiops truncatus)" (Beth Shapiro and David Relman, advisers)

Nicole Dwyer, "Kayaker Disturbance on Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) in Elkhorn Slough (Tim Tinker, adviser)

Eric Garcia, "Next-Generation Genetic Analysis of Disjunct Marine Fish Populations of the Northeastern Pacific and Sea of Cortez" (Giacomo Bernardi, adviser)

Melanie Good, "Building a Photo-Identification Database for Blue Whales in the Northern Indian Ocean" (Don Croll, adviser)

Caitlin Kroeger, "The Energetic Cost of Foraging in a Dynamic Ocean: Will Albatrosses Easily Adapt to Change?" (Scott A. Shaffer, adviser)

Lauren Lee, "E-SCREEN Analysis to Quantify the Estrogenic Activity of Xenoestrogens Leached from Plastic Ingested by California Seabirds" (Myra Finkelstein, adviser)

Katie McElroy, "Velocity and Turbidity Effects on the River Continuum—Differential Demands for Cover and Management Implications" (Joseph E. Merz, adviser)

Kate Melanson, "Predator-Prey Conflict between Two Listed Species: A Case Study of Risk to Endangered Black Abalone by Threatened Sea Otters" (Pete Raimondi, adviser)

Wilson Sauthoff, "Understanding the Ocean’s Nitrogen Cycle: A Novel Approach to Tracing Past Changes in Ocean Sediments" (Matthew McCarthy and Christina Ravelo, advisers)

Dana Shultz, "Analysis of Harmful Algal Blooms in the San Francisco Bay Using an Imaging Flow Cytobot" (Raphael Kudela, adviser)

Emily Slesinger, "Using Molecular Tools to Identify Krill Egg Species Identity" (Baldo Marinovic, adviser)

Samantha Spurlin, "Understanding Variation in Migratory Behaviors of Large Marine Vertebrates: Linking Behavior, Diet, and Fitness" (Patrick Robinson, adviser)