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This photo was taken during a Biscayne Bay boat tour.

Last week, CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment welcomed their 2018 summer Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) student cohort during their orientation session, where the students had the opportunity to meet their peers, mentors, faculty, staff, and graduate students, as well as take a tour around their labs and CREST facilities.

The mission of this research experience is to bring a diverse group of undergraduate students together to walk the path of professional scientists and graduate students, so they can become more confident about doing research and communicating their findings to the public.

For ten weeks, the REU students will be working with faculty and students mentors,  learning about CREST CAChE research and projects by going out into the field and participating in professional workshops. We would like to introduce the REU student cohort and their projects:

Connor Born will be working closely with Dr. Rene Price, RFA Fate & Transport co-lead, and with Shimelis Dessu to investigate the transfer of constituents and nutrients with groundwater flow from the mangroves to the river in Shark River Slough.

Anthony Duruewuru will work side by side with Dr. Francisco Fernandez-Lima, RFA Detection & Identification lead, and with Anthony Castellanos and Dr. Kiera Lucas on the development of analytical tools for the study of A. aegypti exposure to common pesticides.

Mia Lamirand will participate in the seagrass monitoring program, including conducting fish and benthic animal surveys along a number of transects, to later use historic databases that go back over 20 years to make inferences about change through time. Mia will be working closely with Dr. Jim Fourquerean, Director of the Center for Coastal Oceans Research (CCOR) during her research.

Juan Sanchez will develop molecular analyses of coral samples collected monthly from areas impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, characterizing epigenetic modifications at different locations and under different environmental conditions. Dr. Jose Erin-Lopez, RFA Impacts & Visualization lead, Dr. Alex Mercado, and Javier Rodriguez will be guiding Juan and sharing their knowledge and information during his research.

Rose Santana will be working closely with Dr. Todd Crowl, Director of Institute of Water and Environment and CREST CAChE, Dr. Jone Corrales, and Tiffany Yanez, while studying the impacts of metal waterborne contamination on behavior in fish.

Andrea Santiago will work side by side with Dr. Piero Gardinali Co-Director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center, Dr. Natalia Soares Quinete, and  Dr. Alex Mercado on her project that will focus on determining the physiological responses of eastern mosquito fish when exposed to different levels of Methylmercury.

Yanelle Silva-Luna will be researching about the impacts of Hurricane Irma and Maria on coral reef ecosystems in Puerto Rico and the assessment population health. Yanelle will be working closely with Dr. Jose Erin-Lopez, Dr. Alex Mercado, and Javier Rodriguez during her research.

Clara Smith will be working with Dr. Mike Ross and Dr. Danielle Ogurcak during the Mangrove Supplement research project, where she will be collecting sediment cores from three Puerto Rican mangrove forests, and compared sediment carbon accumulation rates to those of mangrove forests in South Florida.

At the end of the program, students will be presenting their research and findings in a poster session during the annual CREST CAChE Symposium.  This will mark the end and completion of the program, propelling them one step closer to their future career path.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Research Experience and other opportunities CREST CAChE offers.