Florida Tech Undergraduates Shine at Biological Sciences Conference; Earn Four Awards

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Four of the six members of the Florida Institute of Technology chapter of Tri-Beta, the national honor society for undergraduate biologists, came home with awards from the society’s 2012 regional conference, held recently in Athens, Ga. Associate Dean of the College of Science and Professor of biological sciences, Michael Grace is the chapter’s faculty adviser; Associate Professor of biological sciences David Carroll accompanied the students to the conference. The four award recipients were:

●Kim Rigano: Johnson Award, First Place Poster presentation for “Visual capabilities of yellow rat snakes as predators of the threatened Florida scrub-jay.” Her research adviser is Professor Grace.

●Tyler Sloan: Brooks Award, First Place Oral presentation for “The effects of temperature on the feeding kinematics and behavior of two trophically distinct invasive-fish species: the specialist pike killfish and the generalist Mayan cichlid.” Sloan’s research adviser is Professor Ralph Turingan.

●Carolyn Burns: Second Place Oral Presentation for”Feeding ecology of juvenile white marlins.” Her research adviser is Associate Professor Jonathan Shenker.

●Ann Wassick: Third Place Poster for “Effect of salinity and temperature on the survivorship and development of larvae of the green porcelain crab.” Her research adviser is Professor Richard Tankersley.

The other presenters were:

Ashley Millan, advised by Associate Professor Shenker: “Abundance and Dispersal of Cephalopod Paralarvae in the Florida Current;” and Stephanie Visser, advised by Professor Grace: “Adaptive significance of snake skin microarchitecture: the roles of body mass and life history.”

“This result is among the best, if not the best, in the nearly 30-year history of our Tri-Beta chapter.All presentations were said to be excellent,” said Richard Aronson, head of the Florida Tech Department of Biological Sciences.

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