Ph.D. Candidate, Ethan Cissell, has been named a Margaret Menzel Fellow. This fellowship is offered to an exceptional graduate student in FSU's Department of Biological Science, based on nominations by faculty. Fellows are selected for their excellence in research at an advanced stage of study. Ethan states, ""I wish to extend my gratitude to the Department of Biological Science for my selection as the 2020 Margaret Menzel Fellow. This recognition is highly motivating, and spurs my drive to continue to explore interesting ecological phenomena."
Current Award Recipients (FY2021)
Southern Association of Marine Laboratories Lou Burnett Award
MSc. student Nika Blank and Ph.D. student Aaron Ridall have both been awarded funding through the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories 2021 Lou Burnett Award . Nika will use this award to collect data on species composition, density and other metrics of hardbottom coral communities in Hernando county. The collected data will be combined with data off of the FSUCML and in the Tampa Bay area to create a more complete understanding of what these coral communities look like and how they change as you move north to south. Aaron will use his funding to offset boating and sampling costs for his upcoming winter sampling session in Panama City Beach, where he is attempting to understand the distribution of microplastics in coastal sediments and determine if there’s a relationship between the wastewater treatment plant and the levels of microplastics in the sediment. This initial sampling work will also help him determine if there’s a seasonality to microplastics pollution, as synthetic clothing—a leading source of microplastics in the ocean—may be washed 700% more in the winter than in other seasons (Takuma et al., 2006).
American Museum of Natural History Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund
Fourth year Ph.D. Candidate Ethan Cissell was recently awarded a grant from the American Museum of Natural History Lerner-Gray Memorial Fund for Marine Research to support his work exploring coral reef cyanobacterial mat ecology. This grant will allow Ethan to document predation regimes on cyanobacterial mats overgrowing patch reefs in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico to better understand effects of seasonality on interactions between reef fishes and cyanobacterial mats.
Eight FSUCML graduate students were awarded William R. & Lenore Mote Eminent Scholar in Marine Biology Research Assistantships from the FSU Biological Department! Congratulations to Danie Barnes, Rachael Best, Ashley Dawdy, Blake Hamilton, Josh Manning, Jackson Powell, Bobbie Renfro and Aaron Ridall.
The Department of Biological Science at FSU has awarded the Jack Winn Gramling Award in Marine Biology (based on faculty nomination) to Ph.D. student Josh Manning (r), Ph.D. Candidate Ethan Cissell (l), and Ph.D. Candidate Alex Hooks (l picture) this year to support their work. Josh will be using this award to help fund his research in summer 2021 in Bonaire. He will track parrotfishes and establish field experiments to test the hypothesis that behaviorally-mediated patterns in individual parrotfish space-use drive spatial heterogeneity in benthic coral reef communities. Ethan will use the award to help fund his upcoming project experimentally testing of rate influence of density-mediated indirect effects form multiple trophic interactions operating at different spatial scales on Cyanobacteria mat community trajectory. Alex will be pursuing her research to investigate polyandry in Florida crown conch to describe polyandry in field populations, examine its effect on sibling interactions, and understand whether the level of polyandry tracks with the intensity of parent-offspring conflicts.
2020 Margaret Menzel Fellow
2020 American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Foundation Scholarship AwardsOut of four American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) scholarships, two Florida State University students were selected for these prestigious awards. Bobbie Renfro (l), a Ph.D. Candidate in Dr. Janie Wulff’s lab was awarded the second place Doctoral Award to support her research in examining changes in sponge communities across years with changing ocean conditions and among sites with varying levels of human-driven nutrient enrichment. FSU Ph.D. Candidate Ethan Cissell also received the honorable mention for the Doctoral Awards category.
Nika Blank (r), a MSc. student in Dr. Sandra Brooke’s lab, was awarded the second place Masters Award to support her research in identifying shifts in the community structure of hardbottom coral ecosystems along the west Florida shelf. Bobbi, Ethan, and Nika all utilize scientific diving as an important tool in the gathering of samples and data for their respective studies, so the support of the AAUS couldn’t be a more perfect fit. Click here to read AAUS's official press release.
“The mission of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences is to facilitate the development of safe and productive scientific divers through education, research, advocacy, and the advancement of standards for scientific diving practices, certifications & operations.”
2020 Matt Beard Award Winners
2021 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship
Abbey Engleman, a PhD student in Dr. Sandra Brooke’s lab, has recently been named a finalist for the 2021 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program. This program offers a unique opportunity for graduate students to gain both educational and professional experience in national policy decisions affecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lake resources. The 2021 fellowship class will place its 74 finalists into a “host” office within the legislative and executive branches of government. The finalists will then work in these positions in Washington D.C. for a one-year paid fellowship. Abbey’s current research focuses on understanding the drivers for ecosystem sustainability on coral reefs. She uses 3D technology to understand how reef structure contributes to reef processes, such as coral recruitment.
Her passion for translating science to society was the catalyst that initially drove her to pursue her PhD. She wanted to deepen her understanding of the science she aims to communicate. The Knauss Policy Fellowship is a perfect “next-step” as it offers an incredible opportunity to serve as a liaison between scientists and policy makers, to translate research into meaningful and actionable change.
Abbey will not learn of her host office assignment until this fall, but she is broadly interested in forging relationships between the government and NGOs -- to amplify the impact of research and elicit widespread adoption of more sustainable practices. She is eager to gain perspective on how the United States enacts policies surrounding conservation. She remarks, “The Fellowship offers unique exposure to this process, and the barriers or limitations to passing legislation, which will be invaluable for advancing my career goals.”
To learn more about the Knauss fellowship, and to meet the other finalists, click here
Award Recipients (FY2020)
2020 Gumbo Limbo Nature Center Grant (May)
PhD student, Aaron Ridall, received a grant in May 2020 from the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, a non-profit organization in Boca Raton, Florida, that focuses on inspiring stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems. Gumbo Limbo collaborates with the local community, including schools, to improve sea turtle conservation, foster education about Florida’s marine environments, and facilitate citizen science. Thanks to the generoisty of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Aaron will be able to conduct his research on how microplastics concentrations in sediments change seasonally. He will be measuring the concentrations of microplastics in ocean sediments in proximity to wastewater outflow into the Gulf of Mexico and in a pristine site to assess differences caused by human populations.
2020 PADI Foundation Grants (May)
Blake Hamilton (l), a Masters student in Dr. Dean Grubbs’ lab, and Aaron Ridall (r), a PhD student in Dr. Jeroen Ingels' lab, were both recently awarded a grant from the PADI Foundation. Blake's research revolves around the effects of environmental variation on trophic interactions, community composition, and fish movement in Apalachicola Bay. Aaron's research focus is on how microplastics concentrations in sediments change seasonally, and how the presence of microplastics influences the effectiveness of nutrient cycling by nematodes in benthic systems. Congratulations to both of these standout students! We look forward to see how each of their research endeavors progress over the coming months.
2020 Explorers Club OceanX Grant (April)
Congratulations to Ethan Cissell, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences (Advisor: Dr. Sophie McCoy), on receiving an OceanX Explorer Grant from The Explorers Club. OceanX focuses on marine exploration and biological discovery in the most inaccessible parts of the ocean. They seek to partner with scientists who are willing to push the boundaries of research in their fields, and provide tools to help them accomplish their goals. Cissell's research aligns perfectly with this pioneering attitude as this grant will help him explore the influence of predation on the bloom dynamics of benthic cyanobacterial mats on reef sites offshore the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.
2020 FSUCML Board of Trustees Scholarship Recipients (April)
The FSUCML Board of Trustees Scholarship is funded through the generosity of the FSUCML Board of Trustees. This scholarship supports FSU graduate students who use the FSUCML as a base for conducting their research. Congratulations to the 2020 recipients:
Rachael Best, (Dept. Biological Science. Advisor: Dr. Don Levitan) will target her research in the ecology of marine benthic invertebrates and the effect that environmental stressors have on their population dynamics.and researching how stressors, such as high macroalgal cover or sedimentation, effect gorgonian octocoral population dynamics in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Octocorals are largely understudied and Rachael hopes to shed light on the mechanisms driving observed patterns in gorgonian distribution, abundance, and population dynamics between limestone reefs, as well as how increasing stressors will alter these populations
Randi Bowman, (Dept. Biological Science. Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke) will research how depth affects coral ecology. Particularly, the relationships between depth and corals in terms of coral-zooxanthella symbioses and community structure. Much of the mesophotic and deep sea remains understudied because of the difficulty associated with accessing such remote ecosystems, but their ecological importance merits continued study. Randi hopes to use her research to add to the existing body of work done in these systems
Ethan Cissell, (Dept. Biological Science. Advisor: Dr. Sophie McCoy) will study interactions between endolithic bacteria and their host coralline algae, as well as viral top-down control on endolithic community composition and abundance. Ethan will focus on nutrient exchanges between the endolithic community and the host coralline, impacts of nutrient exchange on host ecology, and bioerosion of the living host. Empirically based models of bacterial population dynamics in conjunction with viral titre will be constructed to run cost-benefit analysis of bacterial colonization for the host, as well as to explore the consequences of changing ocean chemistry on bacteria-host-virus interactions.
Blake Hamilton, (Dept. Biological Science. Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs) will target his research in the field of fisheries ecology, more specifically with respect to elasmobranchs and their interactions with other fishes. Blake also hopes to investigate temporal variation in trophic interactions with the help of stable isotope analysis, and supplement this with spatial data via acoustic telemetry to identify the movement of sharks between environments that may reflect different stable isotope signatures.