Two seniors shared their findings from their engaged learning experiences in the Crab Lab at Florida Southern College at the Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium hosted by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
Abby Smith ’22 and Morgan Jarrett ’22 evaluated their research with scientists, resource managers, and environmental educators who work with the National Estuary Program. The NEP provides grants to states where governors have identified nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development, or overuse.
“It was an amazing feeling and very rewarding to present the work I have been working on for almost a year now,” Abby said.
Abby, who is a North Carolina native and marine biology major, presented a poster on an educational high school lesson she co-authored. The lesson allows high school students to learn about and explore environmental concepts such as coastal acidification, the Florida stone crab fishery, and the impacts of reduced pH on coastal ecosystems and their inhabitants.
The lesson included subsets of data from the Florida stone crab research, which was completed in the summer of 2021 in FSC’s Crab Lab.
After Abby’s poster was displayed for a week, she received a student Honorable Mention award, one of two awards given at the conference.
“I am honored to have been awarded and am grateful others were so excited about my work,” she said.
While Abby was presenting during the poster session, Morgan gave an oral presentation about the research completed over the summer. Morgan hails from New Jersey and is a marine biology and environmental studies double major.
“The conference is meant to update each other on the work we have been doing in our respective areas, and inspire collaboration between researches to help mitigate the challenges our estuaries and coasts are facing,” Morgan said.
While at the symposium, the seniors spent time networking with professionals in the field of marine biology, receiving feedback, praise, and resources.
It was nerve wracking to speak in the presence of distinguished scientists, Morgan shared, but an overall rewarding experience.
“The opportunity to present research at a scientific conference as an undergraduate does not happen every day, so I was extremely excited for the opportunity,” she said.
Morgan and Abby have spent several hours in the Crab Lab and in the ocean gaining hands-on experience studying ocean acidification and its effects on wildlife like Florida stone crabs.
“This experience has given me the opportunity to participate in real research that allows me to apply all of the knowledge and skills I have been taught in my courses at FSC,” Abby said.
Without engaged learning moments like the symposium and Crab Lab, Morgan said she would have never been on her way to entering a Ph.D. program right after receiving her bachelor’s degree.
The College has allowed Morgan to present cutting-edge research to others in the field, while formulating her own research projects. Abby agrees that the hands-on learning at FSC is vital.
“Having the ability to actually try things and not just read, listen or watch them is so important in discovering if it’s something that you see yourself doing,” she said. “This experience has provided me a way to explore different marine biology research roles, as well as prepared me with hands-on experience in the field I am going into after I graduate!
Learn more about engaged learning at FSC.