Texas Sea Grant awards $33,000 to graduate students for research

July 03, 2015

By Cindie Powell

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University recently awarded $33,000 in research funding to 23 graduate students at three Texas A&M University System institutions.

The students are being funded through Texas Sea Grant’s Grants-in-Aid of Graduate Research Program, which is intended to promote scientific excellence and achievement by providing small grants to graduate students enrolled at Texas A&M University (TAMU), Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) or Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) whose marine- or coastal-related research in any field of study is relevant to Texas, though not necessarily based in Texas.

“Texas Sea Grant’s Grants-In-Aid Program supports students in their early research career as they develop their research skills,” said Mia Zwolinski, Texas Sea Grant’s Research Coordinator. “It further contributes to their professional skills as they learn the grant proposal process — finding funding opportunities, writing competitive proposals, navigating the peer-review process and conducting funded research all within their own developed budget and timeline.”

After a rigorous proposal review process, the students were awarded amounts ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. The students, their degree level and institution, and the titles of their projects are listed below.

  • Amanda Barker, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Preliminary search for scalloped hammerhead nursery grounds near Corpus Christi, Texas”
  • Brenda Bennett, master’s degree student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “The effects of natural and artificial substrate on oyster recruitment”
  • Cesar Castillo, doctoral student in geography at TAMU: “Assessing hydrologic connectivity between a coastal river and its floodplain using a field-based data logger array”
  • Patricia Cockett, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Investigating genetic patterns of two snook fishery stocks (Centropomus spp.) on the South Texas Gulf Coast using ezRAD”
  • Michael Dance, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUG: “Contribution of estuarine nurseries to adult red drum populations in Texas”
  • Xochitl De La Rosa Reyna, doctoral student in wildlife and fisheries sciences at TAMU: “Temporal genomic variation of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)”
  • Pavel Dimens, master’s degree student in fisheries and mariculture at TAMUCC: “Population genomics of a migratory coastal shark, the blacknose shark, Carcharhinus acronotus
  • Christine Figgener, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMU: “Mate choice and chemical communication in sea turtles as mechanism to avoid inbreeding and hybridization”
  • Eleni Gesch-Karamanlidis, doctoral student in communications at TAMU: “Assessing the communication dynamics of stakeholder relationships pertaining to complex environmental issues”
  • Jillian Gilmartin, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUG: “Zooplankton community structure and seasonal abundance related to the Loop Current circulation in the Gulf of Mexico”
  • Kenneth Hayes, master’s degree student in life sciences at TAMUCC: “Importance of dissolved organic nitrogen and phosphorus for microbial growth in a eutrophic estuary (Baffin Bay, Texas)”
  • I-Shuo Huang, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “The co-occurrence and potential for synergistic effects of anabaenopeptins and other cyanobacterial toxins on organisms”
  • Brittney Kosar, master’s degree student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) — a source for human exposure to marine neurotoxins”
  • Benjamin Lawson, master’s degree student in life sciences at TAMUCC: “Vascular and algal primary production in the Nueces River (TX) salt marsh system”
  • Luz López de Mesa, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Local adaptation of Streblospio benedicti near oil refineries in Texas”
  • Lee Pinnell, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Microbial colonization and degradation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic debris in Corpus Christi Bay”
  • Avery Scherer, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Reversibility of morphological defenses in the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica
  • Elizabeth Silvy, master’s degree student in wildlife and fisheries sciences at TAMU: “Determining factors affecting Dermo disease of oysters in Galveston Bay, Texas”
  • Nicholas Spalt, master’s degree student in physical and environmental sciences at TAMUCC: “Nutrient export to a reef dominated estuary through submarine groundwater discharge”
  • Dominic Swift, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUCC: “Application of high-throughput sequencing to determine the relatedness of juvenile blacktip sharks within and among three nurseries along the coast of Texas”
  • James Tallman III, master’s degree student in life sciences at TAMUCC: “Oyster sentinel: Investigating antibiotic resistance in an urbanized bay”
  • Thomas TinHan, doctoral student in marine biology at TAMUG: “Feeding ecology of bull sharks in the northwest Gulf of Mexico”
  • Ashley Whitt, master’s degree student in marine biology at TAMUG: “Using citizen science to assess bird community composition of a changing marsh-mangrove ecotone in coastal Texas”

More information about Texas Sea Grant's Grants-in-Aid of Graduate Research Program is available online at http://texasseagrant.org/funding/grants-in-aid-of-graduate-research-program-request-for-proposals/ or by contacting Mia Zwolinski at mzwolinski@tamu.edu or (979) 458-0449.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.