Biology Student Makes Waves with Research

DURA Lacie Anderson - resized pic

Lacie Anderson presenting her poster at the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Biannual Meeting in Portland, Oregon in November 2015.

Congratulations to UCF biology major, Lacie Anderson, for her accomplishment as the February recipient of the Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher Award (DURA).

Each month, one student is rewarded for their time and effort spent researching a subject of their choice. During their research, students work with a mentor that guides and helps them during the process. With their mentor’s approval the research is submitted for review by the Student Undergraduate Research Council.

Lacie received the DURA award for her research on “Quantifying the Success of Eastern Oysters in Brevard County”. She worked under the mentorship of Linda Walters, Ph.D., after she met her on their tropical marine biology study abroad trip to Belize in summer of 2014. They started the project in Fall 2014 and will continue until Summer 2016.

The project involves reintroducing the eastern oyster to three sites in Brevard County. Every three months the team would visit each deployment site and sample a sub-set from each of our treatments.

Lacie said “This way we are able to asses survival of the gardened oysters, any natural recruitment occurring, and the size of the oysters. I also go to each site once a month to collect abiotic data (salinity, wind speed, air temp, and water temp)”.

Oysters are an essential species in estuaries to filter water remove nitrogen, protect shorelines, and provide food and hiding places for juvenile fishes, shrimp and crabs. Living shorelines provide better long-term, economical protection of the area in terms of sea level rise, as well as the ability to stop erosion by accreting sediments. The purpose of this study is to determine if these sites are good for future large-scale oyster deployments to ultimately improve local lagoon water quality in Brevard County.

“Lacie has been the backbone of this important project that is run collaboratively by UCF, Brevard Zoo and Brevard County Natural Resources and funded by the state”, stated Dr. Walters.DURA Lacie Anderson 2

“At this point, she is more colleague than student. Many counties in Florida are considering using oysters for natural water filtration. Understanding the success (or lack thereof) of deployed oysters in potential reef locations is hard work, but incredibly important to avoid wasting tax dollars.”

Lacie will be presenting this data at the Indian River Lagoon Symposium on Feb. 11, 2016.

Last semester, Lacie signed up for the Honors in the Major program and is now working on an undergraduate honors thesis for this research project. She believes in working outdoors, “in the real Florida and helping communities understand how to preserve and restore ecosystems so that future generations will be able to see them and appreciate them as well.”

As the DURA recipient, Lacie received a $100 scholarship to recognize their efforts, in partnership with SGA, a certificate and an Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) padfolio, recognition on the Office of Undergraduate Research website and acknowledgment of her award in the monthly OUR electronic newsletter.

To learn more about the Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher Award, click here.

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