Around the Pier: Third-Annual Symposium Highlights Student Research


For the third consecutive year, graduate students at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego banded together to organize the Scripps Student Symposium, also known as S3. The lively day-long research symposium was held on September 21 at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment and featured student presentations and poster sessions on topics ranging from climate change and fisheries to drugs from the sea and seismology.

S3 provides a platform for Scripps students to present and discuss their research with colleagues from all curricular groups, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and the breaking of traditional boundaries.

“I’m honored to lead an institution with such a dynamic and diverse student body,” said Scripps Director Margaret Leinen during her opening remarks. “This symposium is truly special because it’s created, organized, and led by Scripps students. This is a testament to the spirit of collaboration that thrives at Scripps.”

Two years ago, a group of eight trailblazing students decided to shake things up and host the first Scripps Student Symposium. The inaugural 2014 symposium was such a success that it has since become an annual affair—thanks to continued efforts from Scripps students, as well as support from donors and the Scripps graduate department.

The theme for the 2016 symposium, “Past, Present, and Future,” was chosen by the S3 organizing committee to reflect the temporal scales that students often consider in their research. (Photo gallery here.)

A total of 28 students participated in the event, which consisted of three oral sessions and two poster sessions with cash prizes and awards distributed at the end of the day for the top presentations and posters. The audience, largely populated by students and faculty, determined the winners in each category.

Travis Courtney and Mike Tift received “Outstanding Talk” awards for their presentations. Courtney, a marine geochemistry student, presented research on seasonal patterns in calcium carbonate production of a Bermuda coral reef and Tift, a marine biology student, presented new research on increased carbon monoxide (CO) levels in marine mammals.

Awards for “Outstanding Poster” were given to oceanography student Sarah Shackleton and marine biology student Jessica Blanton for their respective posters on ocean temperature reconstruction using ice cores and analysis of the Florida lancelet to better understand host-microbiome relationships in certain animals.

Following the student presentations and poster sessions, Scripps Associate Director Bruce Appelgate presented information about UC Ship Funds, a program which enables students, postdoctoral researchers, and early career faculty to pursue independent research at sea aboard Scripps ships.

Scripps marine ecologist Octavio Aburto introduced Scripps alumna Sheila Walsh Reddy who delivered an uplifting keynote address in which she discussed how we must rethink human behavior change in order to achieve better outcomes for nature and people. Reddy received her doctorate from Scripps in marine biology in 2009 and now works as a behavioral economist for the Nature Conservancy, where her research focuses on understanding and transforming private practices and public policies to make conservation a regular part of how people live and work.

Symposium co-organizer Mariela Brooks said this year's event was a huge success, and the student body plans to continue hosting the research showcase in the future.

"All of the students who presented their work did an incredible job and our keynote speaker was informative and inspiring," said Brooks, a fifth-year graduate student in marine chemistry. "This event is a great opportunity for students to share their work across the many different fields of study here at Scripps. For me the highlight is hearing about the amazing research that our friends and colleagues are doing and I am looking forward to this tradition continuing!”

The Scripps graduate department supported the symposium, and the student organizing committee included Brooks, John Desanto, James Holmes, Lillian McCormick, Sara Rivera, William Savran, and Josefin Stiller.

Learn more about the Scripps Student Symposium here:

– Brittany Hook

Related Image Gallery: 2016 Scripps Student Symposium

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