Student’s Award-Winning Restoration Research

Conservation genetics research conducted by Shelly Gaynor, a University of Central Florida biology student, has earned her awards at multiple events.

Gaynor was recently awarded for her research presentations at Eureka: Student Research Talks and the American Society of Plant Biologist (ASPB) Southern Sectional conference.

Her research evaluates the impact of current shoreline restoration efforts on genetic diversity of smooth cordgrass within the Indian River Lagoon. Gaynor quantified the genetic diversity of restored and natural populations through her study she has been working on since the spring of her freshman year.

Gaynor presented at the Eureka: Student Research Talks – hosted as a part of UCF’s Research Week by the Mad Scientist’s Research Society in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Graduate Student Association. Graduate students make up the panel of judges at the event.

At the event, held April 3, Gaynor presented her research to an interdisciplinary audience of students. Gaynor shared her research through an oral presentation, which earned her the first place award.

UCF biology students Adam Searles and Mike Dieffenbach placed second and third, respectively.

On April 9, Gaynor presented her research again in Orlando at the ASPB Southern Sectional conference where she won second place for her poster presentation.

Additionally, she was recently awarded additional funding for the project through the Botanical Society of American Undergraduate Student Research Awards.

Gaynor worked alongside her advisers, Associate Professor Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., and Pegasus Professor Linda Walters, Ph.D., to conduct the award-winning research. Hoffman and Walters admire Gaynor’s determination throughout the project.

“Linda and I are very proud of the hard work Shelly has put into her project and we’re excited that her work was recognized,” Hoffman said.

This summer Gaynor will be attending two research internships; a National Science Foundation funded internship at the Florida Museum of Natural History and a NSF-REU at the University of Missouri.

Gaynor plans to graduate UCF in spring 2018 and wants to continue her education by working toward a doctoral degree in evolutionary biology.

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