Mentoring Young Scientists Program
Benefits from VASG Graduate Fellow Outreach

The following blog post is by Hannah Aichelman, a Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) graduate research fellow, and a graduate student at Old Dominion University (ODU). Aichelman is studying how climate change might affect temperate coral species off the coast of Virginia. 

Last week I had the pleasure of sharing some of the research happening at ODU, including my own, with students from the Mentoring Young Scientists (MYS) program. MYS is an after-school program hosted by the Virginia Aquarium for middle school students who have a passion for marine science. I have previously worked with this group as part of my Virginia Sea Grant outreach activities. The MYS students are incredibly bright and inquisitive, and it was a lot of fun to engage with them, and discuss my research and other projects at ODU.

Along with fellow graduate students Emily Anderson and Gaya Gnanalingam (Ph.D. candidates in the Butler lab at ODU) we rotated the MYS kids through three stations, each discussing a different aspect of our research. Emily hosted a station on phytoplankton collection and identification, while Gaya introduced the students to her research involving the spiny lobster from the Florida Keys. I discussed corals around the world, including tropical corals, and the temperate corals I study off the Virginia coast.

My Corals Around the World station was inspired when I took part in the VASG Advanced Science Communication Seminar, for which I created the video below. The MYS students learned about the biological and habitat differences between tropical and temperate corals, and assisted in measuring water quality of our aquaria, and feeding the corals that we maintain in the ODU Aquatics Facility.

At the end of the day, we brought the whole MYS group together, and gave the students a chance to try on some of the dive gear that we use to collect samples both off the coast of Virginia, and in the Florida Keys. It was an exciting way to end a successful day communicating our research to the next generation of scientists. I look forward to hearing about the incredible things these students will go on to accomplish.

Photography courtesy of the Virginia Aquarium Mentoring Young Scientists program.

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