Marine Biology Professor Makes a Big Splash

Dec 15, 2016

by Dr. Nancy Morvillo
Professor of Biology & Department Chair
Edited for length and content

Dr. Kristian Taylor formally joined FSC this fall as an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, but has already been making great strides to engage students in education, research and conservation. 

On December 12, Dr. Taylor was awarded a grant from Tampa Bay Water for his project titled “Fostering Source Water Stewardship using Peer-to-Peer Instruction”. The project calls for members of the student organization, Florida Southern’s Ocean Conservation group (FLOSOCO), to serve as peer educators to non-science majors.

Dr. Taylor will be taking students kayaking on the Hillsborough and Alafia rivers.  FLOSOCO students will help to educate their peers about the role of these vital ecosystems and the importance of source water conservation.

In addition to the educational aspects of these trips, the students will also engage in a river clean up service project.  “Supplies will be provided to the students so we can pick up trash as we move down the river,” said Taylor.  “Our trash tally will be weighed and sent to the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County for their records.”

Tampa Bay Water supplies drinking water to more than 2.4 million people in six different counties.  A large part of what they do is to protect the water supply sources. 

 “These trips will touch on the source water preservation aspect and educational outreach, and provide our students with both outdoor and teaching experience,” Taylor said.  “The peer-to-peer aspect is somewhat unique for these types of grants. It adds a new dimension to a simple river cleanup.” 

Dr. Taylor accepted the grant at the Board of Directors meeting for Tampa Bay Water on December 12.  He was able to address the directors and thank them for their financial support.

Dr. Taylor also recently received a Bay Grant from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.   The Bay Grants support community-based restoration and education projects focusing on Florida's largest open-water estuary.

 “I will be working with a colleague from the University of Tampa, which will foster intra-university collaboration between students,” Taylor said.  The Bay Grant will extend beyond education, and allow Dr. Taylor and his students to conduct research on invertebrate biodiversity in and around the Tampa Bay area.