Third Scholarship Recipient Chosen By National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation

A new scholarship for a Biology student will support her final undergraduate year studying and promoting sea turtle conservation.

Christine Sarkis is the third 2020 recipient of the $10,000 scholarship from the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation. She’s joined by two other students working in tandem with the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group, led by Kate Mansfield, Ph.D.

“It’s so exciting to receive this scholarship,” said Sarkis. “It feels good knowing that I now have financial support for a research effort I am really passionate about.”

Sarkis has been conducting research since her freshman year at UCF under Anna Forsman, Ph.D, of the Forsman Lab, in collaboration with Erin Seney, Ph.D, of the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group. The research in progress focuses on the diet of juvenile green sea turtles, and uses meta-barcoding methods to identify digested food using DNA.

“It’s a cool technique because we can figure out what these turtles are eating,” explained Sarkis. “We are using it to synthesize genomic sequences of 39 different turtles, and looking at how diets of these turtles shift over time.”

The scholarship will help support Sarkis during her senior year of college, and allow her to focus on research without the pressure of being unpaid. Financial aid for students late in their studies is rare, but vital for allowing them to reach their academic finish line and move on to their chosen careers.

“When you’re unpaid in research it can become very hard because it becomes extremely time-consuming and you don’t have time for much else,” said Sarkis. “This scholarship takes that burden off and I am very grateful.”


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