A record eight graduate students at universities in Florida have received Guy Harvey Scholarship Awards, recognizing their outstanding achievement in marine science research. The following winners received $5,000 scholarships:
- Amber Ferguson, University of South Florida
- Johanna Imhoff, Florida State University
- Robert Ellis, Florida State University
- Kristin Kopperud, Florida Institute of Technology
- Tyler Sloan, Florida Institute of Technology
- Arianne Leary, University of North Florida
- Caitlin Pomerance and Alexis Segal, joint scholarship, University of Florida
The scholarship, established in 2010 through a partnership between Florida Sea Grant and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, recognizes students at Florida universities whose research focuses on the biology, ecology, habitat or management of fish in Florida’s marine environment.
Since the award was established, $84,000 in scholarships has now been given to 19 students at Florida universities. Recipients also receive a certificate designed and signed by well-known marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.
“This year 52 highly qualified students applied for this distinguished award. The recipients are the best and brightest of Florida’s graduate students who are studying fisheries science and policy,” said Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant.
“We are delighted that this scholarship program is having such an impact, both in regard to supporting Florida college students and in supporting important research projects,” said Steve Stock, president of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. “The partnership with Florida Sea Grant has been good for us, and good for aspiring marine science students and our oceans.”
This year’s research projects range from evaluating how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may have affected reproduction in marine fish to understanding how fish capture their prey.
Ferguson is investigating prey capture biomechanics, anatomy and bite force in the king mackerel, one of the most sought-after recreational fish in Florida.
Imhoff is studying the potential mercury contamination of deep sea sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Methlymercury is one of several pollutants of particular concern after an oil spill, because it is known to magnify up the food web.
Ellis is investigating the relationship between red grouper, a species that digs large holes in the sea floor to create complex dens, and the community that develops around these sites. He is particularly interested in evaluating predation risk for spiny lobster, which are attracted to the grouper’s artificial dens.
A former art museum curator turned scientist, Kopperud has found the perfect marriage of careeres in her study of the retinal structure and visual processes of tarpon.
Sloan is examining the spread of invasive fish species. Specifically, he is comparing the feeding performance and behavior of different life stages of lionfish at different water temperatures.
Leary is looking at the long-term effects of oil exposure on Gulf fish. She is examining how the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill affected the reproduction efforts of some species such as small sharks and red snapper, and the subsequent potential population impacts.
Pomerance and Segal are collaborating as a team with Bahamian and Florida-based nonprofit organizations to develop and implement a marine managed area in Long Island, Bahamas. They are part of a larger team working to improve enforcement of existing fishery protection laws, assist local subsistence fisherman and conserve the marine resources that sustain livelihoods and the ocean environment.
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators that emphasizes sensible strategies for promoting ocean conservation and the development of the next generation of marine scientists. The foundation funds research and educational programs developed by universities, colleges, institutes and nonprofit organizations.