2018

 

The 2018 edition of  The Diversity Project returned to the Gump Tropical Research Station in  Mo’orea, French Polynesia for another summer of research. What an amazing group of students. Thanks to Smithsonian Researcher Eric Caldera, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow Caitlin Fong, and UCLA graduate students, Erick Zerecero and Shalanda Grier for all your help!


Name: Blanca Alvarez-Caraveo

School: Barnard College of Columbia University

Major: Environmental Science

Project Title: Importance of Intact Herbivore Guilds in Cropping Turf Algae in Mo’orea, French Polynesia

Comments on The Diversity Project: “The Diversity Project is unlike most summer REU programs in that it gives you the training necessary to pursue marine research in the future and develops your confidence as a marine scientist by allowing you to create your own research project. The professors and mentors of the program are there not only to help you with your summer project, but to support you and help you along your own path throughout your scientific career. After the program was over both Paul and Peggy served as my mentors and advocated for me as I applied to graduate school.

Where is she now?  Blanca is a Ph.D. student at UCLA in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department. She studies biomineralization of marine calcifiers and the mechanisms behind certain species’ resiliency to ocean acidification. 


Name: Austin Betancourt

School: San Jose State University

Major: Marine Biology (BS)

Project Title: Nutrients and Herbivory Shape Reproduction Allocation and Physical Defenses in Turbinaria ornata 

Comments on The Diversity Project: “Nothing I have done prior is comparable to the experiences I had in TDP.  This program is a lifetime impact not just a summer. If you are interested in learning about field work, doing research, asking questions about programs, and making friends in the process APPLY.

Where is she now? Austin is finishing up her BS at SJST and applying to  graduate programs . If she doesn’t ‘t hear back this cycle, she plan sto continue with research at SJSU, work on a manuscript for publication, and apply next cycle!



Name: Elijiah Catalan

School: Howard University
Major: Biology and Environmental Studies (double major)

Project Title: Importance of Intact Herbivore Guilds in Cropping Turf Algae

Comments on The Diversity Project: “This was a truly life changing experience. Not only will you get valuable experience with underwater research and travel abroad, but you will also gain mentors and friends that will last a lifetime.

Where is he now?  Eli is finishing his BS at Howard and applying to PhD programs!



Name: Ileana Fenwick

School: Hampton University
Major: Marine and Environmental Science

Project Title: Herbivory increases energy allocation towards reproduction in small Turbinaria ornata

Comments on The Diversity Project: “The Diversity Project gave me the confidence and tools to see research as a part of my future and career, it showed me just how far I could go following my passion for science and innate curiosity. In addition to the hard skills and experience I gained, TDP gave me sincere connections with other passionate, intelligent young scientists that have become collaborations we will build on for a lifetime. I highly recommend this program with no hesitation whatsoever, because it has proven to be one of the most valuable and meaningful summers of my life!

Where is she now?  Ileana is currently finishing her degree at Hampton University with plans to enter a Marine Sciences PhD Program in the Fall. 

 


Name: Howard Hunter

School: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
Major: Biology

 

Project Title: Macroalgal predictability, quantity, and species assemblage affect estimates of herbivory rate and herbivore selectivity on coral reefs.

Comments on The Diversity Project. The Diversity Project was an experience of a life time that I didn’t think I could fully participate in because I couldn’t swim before getting accepted. With only having two months to get scuba ready, I went to my schools swimming pool virtually every day. I had days where I thought to myself, “What am I getting myself into?” or “I just can’t do this…”, but I didn’t give up. Through hard work and perseverance, I was able to become scuba certified through this amazing program! So don’t think that a lack of swimming experience will hinder what you can achieve through this program, you too can become scuba certified and a snorkeling master if you work for it.”

Where is he now now: Hunter is currently working towards graduating this coming May and is taking a year off to familiarize himself with different areas in coral reef ecology before going to graduate school.


Name: Alexys Long

School: Norfolk State University (BS)

Major: Biology

Project Title: Nutrients and Herbivory Shape Reproduction Allocation and Physical Defenses in Turbinaria ornata 

Comments on The Diversity Project:

Where is she now? Alexis completed her degree and competitive basketball career and is now a graduate student at the University of the Virgin Islands


Name: Isaiah Milton

School: Hampton University
Major: Marine and Environmental Science (BS)
Project Title: Topographic complexity shapes herbivore behavior and abundance, increasing herbivory pressure and potentially promoting recovery of a turf-dominated, fringing reef

Comments on The Diversity Project: “The Diversity Project is such a life changing opportunity that opened my eyes to a variety of different paths that I could take as an early career researcher. I was able to gain and improve on many science-based skills that I will keep with me for the rest of my life that includes swimming and scientific diving, networking, science communication, critical thinking, scientific reading and writing, and many more. This program encouraged hard work, introduced me to fellow undergraduate researchers, professors, and graduate students who I am still in contact with, and gave the opportunity to go abroad. I encourage anyone who has an interest in research and marine science to step out of their comfort zone and apply for this program.”

Where is he now? Isaiah is back at Hampton University completing his senior year and pursuing Master’s Programs at Oregon State University and Virginia Tech.

 


Name: Bianca Navarro

School: UCLA

Major: Geography/Environmental Studies
Project Title:Structural complexity shapes herbivore behavior and abundance, increasing herbivory pressure on a turf-dominated, fringing reef

 

Comments of TDP:This was an incredible experience to be a part of. I learned so much throughout this project and met an amazing group of people. I felt tons of support throughout the entire process, and the experience overall has been life-changing.”

Where is she now:  Having graduated from UCLA, Bianca moved to Silicon Valley where she is working as a data analyst with Apple Maps. She’s looking forward to  applying to a GIS graduate program in the future.


Name: Judith Santano

School: Stanford University
Major: Earth Systems
Project Title: Coral Reef Structural Complexity Impacts Ecosystem Functions

Comments of TDP: “The Diversity Project was by far the most impactful experience I had during undergrad! Being part of the program taught me so much about science, opened me eyes to the potential opportunities for graduate school, and gave me the confidence I had been searching for throughout undergrad. For me, the best part of TDP was the mentorship that I received from all of our mentors, but especially Paul and Peggy.  am so grateful to have them as part of my support system as I go through the process of applying to graduate school and figuring out my future. I still feel so fortunate to have been part of such a uniquely amazing experience!”

Where is she now: Judith is currently working as a Conservation Technician with the Stanford Conservation Program. She hopes to apply to graduate school in the upcoming cycle!

Name: Nefertiti Smith

School: University of California, Irvine  (PhD)

Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Project Title: Coral Reef Structural Complexity Impacts Ecosystem Functions

Comments on The Diversity Project: “This is the best undergraduate research program! I learned what it was like to be a researcher in the field collecting data, I learned how to work with others, and I learned how to develop my own ideas into a viable project. Paul and Peggy are the best mentors I have ever had in my life. They create a space where students can flourish as a scientist (and as a human being), they truly care about the success of each student. If you are thinking about applying, just apply.

Where is she now: Nefertiti is a PhD student at UCI

Name: Raines Warren

School: Howard University

Major: Biology
Project Title: Coral Reef Structural Complexity Impacts Ecosystem Functions

Comments on The Diversity Project: 

Where is he now: Raines finished his degree at Howard and is applying to graduate school.