Nova Southeastern University master’s student Dawn Bickham assists with the shipment of coral colonies to the Florida Coral Disease Rescue Project. (Provided by Abigail Renegar)

Grad Student Bickham Helps Capture A Clearer Picture of How Corals Respond to Oil

Coral reefs provide food, shelter, and habitat to thousands of organisms living in the Gulf of Mexico. However, their vulnerability to physical and toxicological damage increases corals’ risk during environmental disturbances, particularly in shallow water where dangers from coastline proximity include wastewater pollution, moving sediment, salinity and nutrient changes, scavengers, and boating and fishing activities.

Grad Student Montgomery Explores How Ocean Chemistry Affects Microbes

Natural seeps are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and help create a chemically unique habitat where microbial populations can flourish. Andy Montgomery is researching the relationship between marine microbes and ocean chemistry and how chemical shifts affect the role microorganisms play in biogeochemical cycling, a common pathway for chemicals and organic matter to move through the ocean.

Nikaela Flournoy. (Provided by NIkaela Flournoy)

Grad Student Flournoy Emphasizes the Importance of Student Exposure to STEM

Nikaela Flournoy’s scientific journey has always carried a societal tie, from her passion for research’s social relevance to her realizations about the relationship between society and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Though she is excited to see a greater emphasis on STEM in primary and secondary education, she hopes to help expand STEM awareness and curriculum to students from diverse educational and social backgrounds.

How Grad Student Cui Uses River Diversion Models to Inform Oil Spill Remediation

When oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill began approaching land, one proposed response was to divert Mississippi River water and sediment into the marshes to try and push surface oil more towards the Louisiana-Texas shelf. Linlin Cui is investigating the impacts of Mississippi River diversions on Barataria Bay hydrodynamics to help inform how future oil spill responders plan and execute freshwater diversions.

Tingting Tang presents her research on whale population recovery at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem conference in Tampa. (Photo provided by Tang)

Grad Student Tang Studies Whale Populations’ Oil Spill Recovery

When disaster strikes, responders look at how creatures in its path may be impacted to mitigate damage. Tingting Tang takes the process one step further, using mathematical models to predict how long recovery may take. The creatures that Tingting focuses on are some of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest predators and most charismatic animals, beaked and sperm whales.