Merit release: Coastal Environmental Science students venture to the West Coast for presentation of research at national conference

CERF Conference Group Photo
December 15, 2023
A talented group of Coastal Environmental Science students recently joined professors from Flagler’s Natural Sciences Department on a trip to Portland, Ore., where they presented research at the national Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF).

This group consisted of students who had received academic credit for their efforts and collaboration on the research projects of Associate Professors of Natural Sciences: Matthew Brown and Ed McGinley.  

“These students contributed in a major way to each of our projects and had the opportunity to present at this national conference,” Professor Brown, co-leader on the trip, said.   

Three recent graduates and 13 current students presented research under the mentorship of these two professors, and Brown said he thinks they couldn’t have done better.

“It’s uncommon for undergraduate students to present at a national meeting such as this, and they simply rocked it,” he said. “They were all super engaged, very professional, and provided a wonderful energy to the experience for Dr. McGinley and me.” 

The 2023 CERF Conference theme was ‘Resilience & Recovery,’ with the mission “to connect science and society with collective goals of preserving coastal and estuarine habitats, resources, and heritage.” 

At the conference, which was held from Nov. 12 through Nov. 16, each of the students and recent graduates participated in research presentations.  

Carly Shaw and Monica Maldonado presented a poster on a year-long study examining fecal indicator bacteria and Oyster Creek and West Augustine. Shannon Farrell and Olivia Husik presented a poster on a year-long study examining a site and method comparison of marine primary productivity in the Matanzas River Estuary. 

Both studies were under the mentorship of Professor Matt Brown. 

Leslie Palmer gave an award-winning oral presentation on a study of juvenile green sea turtles at local marinas using a photo ID database. And Kendra Trezona gave an oral presentation on her research as an intern at the Whitney Lab Sea Turtle Hospital examining spatial and temporal trends of sea turtle strandings in northeast Florida. 

The remainder of the students presented two posters on (1) the tracking of green sea turtles before and after a hospital admittance and (2) the use of photo-ID and field observations to examine behaviors in juvenile green sea turtles. 

Presentations centered around the photo-ID of green sea turtles were based on Professor Ed McGinley’s ongoing research project. 

“For many of these students, it was their first experience being on the West Coast, and for most of them, it was their first experience at an academic conference,” Professor Brown said.