The Matt Beard Award


This award is given in memory of Matthew Beard, an FSU student who intended to make the conservation of corals his life's work.  Matt's research focused on coral recruitment in the Florida Keys and identified important settlement patterns.  His research was published posthumously (citation below).  The award is given by the FSUCML, with advice from the FSU Diving Control Board to the student who best embodies all that Matt exemplified as a student of marine science and as a member of the FSU scientific diving community.

Mason B., M. Beard, MW Miller. 2011. Coral larvae settle at a higher frequency on red surfaces. Coral Reefs 30(3):667-676  DOI: 10.1007/s00338-011-0739-


2023 - Adin Nahoa Domen (MSc. student, Biological Sciences, Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke)

Adin's research interests are developing around how the local marine communities are adjusting and adapting to oyster reef restoration efforts done by the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative.




2023 - Rachael Best (PhD. Candidate, Biological Sciences, Advisor: Dr. Don Levitan)

Rachael's broadly interested in the ecology of marine invertebrates and how they respond to environmental stressors.  She is investigating how high macroalgal cover or sedimentation affect gorgonian octocorals in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Despite their global distribution, octocorals are largely understudied. Thus, she is evaluating the mechanisms driving observed patterns of their distribution, abundance, and population dynamics on limestone reefs and how increasing stressors alter these populations

2022 - Bobbie Renfro (PhD. student, Biological Sciences, Advisor: Dr. Janie Wulff)

Bobbie's graduate research has centered on Caribbean coral reef sponge communities and their response to pollution. She hopes to inspire and guide new generations of biologists and use her research to improve sustainable management of coral reefs.



2022 - Nate Spindel (PhD. student, Biological Sciences, Advisor: Dr. Dan Okamoto)

Nate studies marine invertebrates in temperate kelp forest ecosystems as model organisms for understanding these dynamics.  His research focuses on how trophic dynamics and environmental change affect the metabolic ecology of size-structured populations. 


2022 - Randi Bowman (PhD. candidate, Biological Science, Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke)

Randi's research centered on spatial and temporal shifts in coral functional diversity and response to anthropogenic stressors. Her work seeks to determine which aspects of functional diversity are key to maintaining high-level ecosystem functions in the face of regularly occurring disturbances.


2021 - Sarah Smith (Undergraduate, Biological Science, Advisor: Dr. Janie Wulff)

Sarah's research is focused on growth, potential dispersion, and interspecies interactions of Palythoa caribaeorum, a zoanthid common in the Florida Keys, which appears to be increasing in abundance on reefs experiencing human degradation.





2020 - Anthony Sogluizzo (MSc. student, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke)

Anthony's research focuses on the interactions between coral host and photosynthetic algal symbiont (zooxanthellae) and sheds light on how symbiont communities change in coral tissues based on natural seasonal and latitudinal gradients.



2020 - Kevin Olsen (Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Science, Advisor: Dr. Don Levitan)

Kevin's work focuses on the ecology and evolution of marine benthic invertebrates, specifically on the evolution of mating systems and the dynamics between inbreeding and outbreeding.




2019 - Josh Manning (Ph.D. student, Biological Science, Advisor: Dr. Sophie McCoy)

Josh's dissertation focuses on determining the effects of spatially constrained herbivory by parrotfishes on community assembly processes on coral reefs. Constrained herbivory in parrotfishes because of territorial interactions among conspecifics could increase open space suitable for coral recruitment, thus enhancing reef recovery.


2018 - Ethan Cissell (Ph.D. student, Biological Science, Advisor: Dr. Sophie McCoy)

Ethan's research focuses on the interactions between endolithic bacteria and crustose coralline algae especially nutrient enchanges between the endolithic community and the host coralline, impacts of nutrient exchange on host ecology and bioerosion of the living host. 



2017 - Abbey Engleman (Master's student, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Advisor: Dr. Sandra Brooke)

Abbey's research looks into the significance of texture in coral recruitment and the application in restoration efforts.  By combining characteristics that attract coral settlement with features known to enhance survival to recruitment, substrates can be designed to optimize the percent of larvae that recruit to a reef, improving restoration efforts and kick-starting ecosystem recovery. 

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 5, 2023 at 11:29 AM