Under the Sea Research Wins Award

Casey Craig, Jordan Filipponi, Chelsea Landau and Courtney Buck

A team of University of Central Florida biology graduate students recently won an Undergraduate Research Journal award for their exceptional environmental work.

The UCF Libraries gives its annual Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research to the most outstanding essay published within the calendar year. Casey Craig, Chelsea Landau, Courtney Beck and Jordan Filipponi’s publication, The Impact of Crown Conch on Intertidal Oyster Populations in Mosquito Lagoon, earned them this year’s $250 award.

Their research started in January 2014 when oyster harvesters claimed they were in competition with a marine species, crown conch, for oysters.

“I was intrigued by this project because I have long been fascinated by marine biology,” Craig said, “and furthermore by studying and resolving anthropogenic effects that plague our environment.”

According to Landau, the research project helped her learn important skills that she continues to use.

“Not only were we able to conduct research, we did field work, analyzed data and spoke to different audiences,” she said. “It made me realize it doesn’t matter what your research topic is, it’s about being able to talk to your audience and know how to get them excited about it.”

The group of graduates planned and conducted all parts of the experiment that ultimately led to the conclusion that crown conch were not a significant competitor for oysters in the Mosquito Lagoon. This discovery was important to them and to the environment.

“It eliminates a suspected cause of decline, making managers of the environmental regulations look at other, more prominent, possible causes,” Craig explained.

Craig plans to continue the pursuit of her passion by attending graduate school in fall 2017. She aspires to get her master’s degree in environmental ecology and conservation. Landau also plans to continue her academic career.

“I hope to continue my education and receive a master’s in conservation biology or marine biology,” Landau said.

Landau is now working as a marine biology teacher at Sanford Middle School and hopes to continue educating kids on the subject she loves most.

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