Biology Students Shine at ShORE Conference


Michelle Shaffer (4th from right) and Meagan Minadie (3rd from right) with their awards. Credit: ShORE on the IRL Facebook page.

Five students and three professors from the Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida participated in the Sharing Our Research with Everyone or Sh.O.R.E. conference on Sept. 23 at New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The conference was presented by the Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies at Daytona State College and the New Smyrna Beach Marine Discovery Center.

 The Sh.O.R.E. Conference is held to increase opportunities for high school and undergraduate researchers to present their work. The conference also sought to bring attention to the Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Students Meagan Minadie, Adam Searles, Michelle Shaffer, David Zheng and Lacie Anderson presented their research at the conference, accompanied by their professor mentors from UCF. Minadie, Searles and Shaffer all received awards and cash prizes for their work.


Adam Searles next to his poster. Credit: ShORE on the IRL Facebook page

Minadie presented her poster titled “What Our Eyes Can’t See: Distribution of Microplastic Pollution within Mosquito Lagoon and the Eastern Coast of Central Florida.” Searles presented his poster titled “Determining Physical and Ecological Factors Affecting Abundances of Juvenile Indicator Species.” Shaffer gave an oral presentation “Evaluating the effects of the range expansion of Avicennia germinans on eastern shoreline bird communities along the east coast of Florida.”

Minadie’s poster won both the people’s choice award and second place in the student poster competition at the conference. Searles and Shaffer won third place in the student poster competition and the student oral presentation competition, respectively.

Minadie’s research was inspired by a group research project in Pegasus Professor Linda Walters’, Ph.D., Advanced Marine Biology class.

Minadie chose to research her topic because of the prevalence of microplastics in ecosystems. The results of her research showed that microplastics are not more or less present in one type of water body than another. She said that the research is important because it will help to illustrate how the pollutants travel though the environment.

“I’m extremely passionate about this research and love discussing it with scientists and the public,” Minadie said. “This conference was a great experience for me and I’m so grateful to have won the people’s choice award and 2nd place at the conference. It’s such a privilege to have citizens and fellow scientists notice and find interest in your research.”

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