Saturday, February 17, 2018

Augustus UR - "Why do we Fall? So we can Learn to Pick Ourselves Back Up."

This blogpost is going to be a different one entirely from some of my other classmates. In my previous post I detailed this project that I was going to be working on this semester, well due to the rigorous testing that the study involved it wouldn't be possible to accomplish it in the constraints of the semester and more importantly it was WAY above any type of testing I've done basically I'm used to using acids that might burn if you touch them not the ones that will melt your skin if you accidentally touch them. Before I get started I want to thank Dr. Brown for even including me in on this research, most people wouldn't even think to give some one with not much experience a chance to learn like that. Unfortunately for me there goes my chance to work with someone I could call Doc Brown *insert groans for horrible Back to the Future joke*. The other outcome of this situation is it a great moment to take away a life lesson, when one door closes another door opens, you just have to keep looking and not allow yourself to dwell on the the felling of failure or letting someone down. Science and failure go hand in hand, every scientist fails from time to time the difference is if you can pick yourself back up and try again.

So now without further adieu my new project will be monitoring sea level rise due to climate change using a HOBO Data Logger graciously supplied by Dr. Woodall. What I will be attempting to study is the change in water level vs historical data and comparing that to the data being collected by researchers down at Florida Tech in Melbourne to see the effects of Climate Change on our sea level and how quickly it is increasing. There will be some difficulties with this project first getting to a spot where this can be deployed and getting permission to deploy it in said location, so my data collection might be slow and I might be left with just a proposal this semester but this project is something I'm going to stick with for a long time. It is an important topic to me and I'm extremely excited to start working on this.
The U20L Data Logger being used for this Research

Friday, February 16, 2018

Katie U.R: Its a Shark-saster!

So in the last week I thought I would have to give up my project on bacteria in sharks, but luckily Professor Woodall handled all of the issues that were piling up, so big thank you to her! While she was handling that, I was scrambling to find a facility who would allow me to do my testing in their lab. I emailed countless facilities that specialized in either bacteria or in sharks. Everyone kept coming back to me saying that their labs were already filled with projects and everything. So I was almost going to give up and just choose another project but tonight I got two amazing emails, one from Woodall and another from a lady by the name of Andriana Fragola. Ms. Fragola is apart of the University of Miami Shark Research Center. She told me to give her the details of my project and she would see if she was able to help out with anything since she is familiar with Nathan R. Unger's research. Hopefully I will be hearing back from her again !

Nathan R Unger
Nathan R. Unger
Now you're questioning, " Who is Nathan R. Unger?" Nathan Unger does research in Clinical Pharmacology. He did a study with Erich Ritter, Robert Borrego, Jay Goodman, and Olayemi Osiyemi on Antibiotic Susceptibilities of Bacteria Isolated within the Oral Flora of the Florida Blacktip. 

What they found was that when they did the Gram Stain test that Gram-negative compromised a significantly higher portion of bacteria compared to gram-positive bacteria. The overall antibiotic resistance rate was 12% for all antibiotics tested.

Bacteria isolated in the oral cavity of blacktip sharksa.
Table of the Gram Stain taken during the Unger Research

Now back to my research project! I have started to put a word document together just to organize my thoughts about everything.I haven't come up with a procedure yet for when I do catch the sharks but its baby steps and I will get there. But first I will have to build the remote sampling device that Ugner used in his research. Since they cost about $10,000 to get one I thought it would be cost efficient to make one I found on a DIY website.  Clallam County in Washington State's website helped me with materials and instructions needed to make a Sampling device.
Remote Sampling Device Used in Unger's research

Listed below is my title, questions, sharks being used, location, and materials for my remote sampling device:
-Title: Bacteria Loves You and the Sharks
-Question: Are drug-resistant bacteria only common in certain species of sharks on the ponce inlet or do they vary from shark to shark?
-Sharks Im Using: Anything. Anything I catch will be sampled. The more the better!
-Location-Ponce Inlet, because so many incidents have happen here with shark bite victims, I believe this will be the best place to catch sharks.
-Materials for device: (1) extendable painting rod; 6 feet extendable to 12 feet ,(1) 2-inch Irwin Speed Clamp, (2) 8/32" x 2" bolts, (2) 8/32" locking nuts, (4) #6 washers, (2) pieces closed-cell foam, 1.5" x 10" (trim to length after installing), (2) 5" or longer nylon wire ties

I'll be keeping everyone undated on how the tool is looking. I'm going to start building it tonight! I'm excited that I am finally able to start this project!

Jordan (UR) The Feeble Oyster vs the Mighty Microplastic Cont.

      For my IRP, it seems that there have been a few studies done on the impact of microplastics upon the reproductive systems of oysters, along with the study of cultured oysters and the impact of microplastics from run off into those closed systems. Other than those two there doesn't really seem to be that many, that are related directly to the study of microplastics in oysters, and marine bivalves in general. That's all the information I could find on the subject. Now if I can do my project on how to cook oysters, that's a different game to play.

Niki UR Osmosis Jaws

I was lucky enough to stumble upon an article of a 30 year study of the Indian River Lagoon and it's role as a bull shark nursery during the spring, summer and fall. The synthesis combined data collected over a 30 year time frame and included several different studies done in different areas of the river system. Age 0 sharks seem to prefer northern areas and its warmer temperatures and lower salinity, such as the Mosquito Lagoon area. Included in the article were CPUE rates for different types of gear and the different areas over the 30 year span, and I've come to the conclusion that what I may have had in mind for my project probably isn't feasible. The best way for me to collect data that would produce results would be to drive much farther south than I had anticipated, and there is the added obstacle of equipment.

Changing gears, I only have an inkling of where to begin! Bull Sharks are able to live in lower salinity areas because of  their osmoconformic nature, the process in which the shark changes the way their kidneys function to produce large amounts of watered down urine in order to maintain proper balance between the shark and environment.
The ability of some marine animals to inhabit these environments with such different salinity concentrations is something that interests me, and seeing as I live a mere 2 blocks from the beach and river, and want to take advantage of the ease of access to these two different sites. Possibly an experiment on the comparison of water quality measurements from the ocean to the Halifax River? I live several miles from the inlet and wonder what the salinity, water clarity, temperature and energy levels are for the river versus the ocean at the same position across the street.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Michelle (UR) - It's a material world.

Note to anyone doing research: watch your search terms. Upon searching for an electrostatic screen, I came across all kinds of things, from air filters to anti-static mats. Unfortunately, none of the materials I came across are easily adaptable to my project. This roadblock simply steered my project idea in another direction. Instead of relying on static electricity, also known as the triboelectric effect, I decided to try using piezoelectricity for the filter. I hope to use water pressure to create a net charge to attract the microplastics from the water. I have found a material that I would like to make the membrane itself from, which is alginate. This material is derived from seaweed, and used in a variety of biomedical applications, and is used to make dental molds. A bit more research should lead me to the best powder to mix in, whether aluminum, titanium, or something I haven't considered yet. The charge does not need to be much, just enough to capture any fibers (hopefully).

Lee, Kuen Yong and David J. Mooney. (2012) Alginate: properties and biomedical applications. Progress in Polymer Science, 37(1), 106-126.
Nandini,V. Vidyashree, K. Vijay Venkatesh and K. Chandrasekharan Nair. (2008) Alginate impressions: A practical perspective. Journal of Conservative Dentistry : JCD, 11(1), 37–41.
The TriboElectric Series. (n.d.) Retrieved from
Woodford, Chris. (2017) Piezoelectricity. Retrieved from

Jenna Westfall (UR)- Turtles Vs. Plastics- Friends or food?

Plastic that looks similar to a sea turtles favorite snack, jellyfish.
I have always loved sea turtles since I was little. To me, they are just amazing creatures. For my Independent Research Project, I will be doing researched based on plastics inside sea turtles. A lot of people know that a sea turtles favorite snack is jellyfish which looks a lot like a plastic bag. So far, just doing a few searches on the internet, there is a huge majority of turtles that have inhaled plastic bags which just makes me wonder how many other plastics they inhale. Although I pretty much know what topic I want to do, I'm absolutely clueless as to where to start. If any of you have suggestions feel free to spill them out! I could definitely use some advice.
When this sea turtle was a baby, it was stuck in a plastic soda wrap. As it grew, its body formed around the plastic.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Karen (UR) Ducktales >

Wow !!  A tiny little "nuisance" plant has the potential to do big things !

I have found so much research on Lemna minor that I don't even know where to start.  Suffice it to say, there are endless possibilities here so I am keeping my IRP to measuring the Nitrate levels in the water.  There is research being conducted, at Wildflower Preserve in Florida, on removing excess nutrients introduced by treated wastewater effluence when the land was being used as a golf course.  Their research has shown high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and chlorophyll in their test ponds.  Additionally, I have found some interesting articles from the African Journal of Aquatic Science on the remediation of eutropic water using Lemna minor and one on the NIH (National Institute of Health) website on bioremdiation for CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations). 

For my IRP, I will be using the Biotronette Mark III Environmental Chamber in the lab on the South campus in New Smyrna Beach.  This will allow me to monitor the plants on a daily basis.  I will be purchasing the Lemna minor in order to have a clean specimen.  Originally, I had planned to "fish" it out of a local pond, but after careful consideration, I was concerned about bringing unknowns into the lab area.  I plan on using 3 culture dishes, 1 will be a control, 1 will be a steady state and 1 will have 1/2 the plant matter removed weekly.  The culture dishes I will be using are 4 1/2 inch diameter with a 250ml capacity.  I will be using DI water (distilled water) and adjust the liquid volume to 150ml to account for the plant matter. The levels of nitrate will be monitored every 48 hours as well as the evaporation and transpiration rates.  Water levels will be adjusted accordingly. I will be adding a nitrogen fertilizer to the water every 48 hours also.  Due to the time constraints, because of spring break, I will not begin the experiment until March 19.
Environmental Chamber

Culture Dish

Ansari, A. A., & Khan, F. A. (2008). Remediation of eutrophic water using Lemna minor in a controlled environment. African Journal Of Aquatic Science, 33(3), 275-278. doi:10.2989/AJAS.2008.
Burkholder, J., Libra, B., Weyer, P., Heathcote, S., Kolpin, D., Thorne, P. S., & Wichman, M. (2007). Impacts of Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations on Water Quality. Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(2), 308–312.
“Wildflower Preserve Water Quality Initiatives.” Lemon Bay Conservancy,

Monday, February 12, 2018

Jordan (UR) The Feeble Oyster vs the Mighty Microplastic

        One of my favorite foods of all time, is steamed oysters with crackers, so when I was told about microplastics found in oysters, I was understandably concerned. Am I eating oysters full of plastic? I needed answers, which is one of the places my idea for the IRP, along with Dr. Woodalls guidance, came from. For my IRP I will be surveying the number of micro plastics found in maricultured clams or oysters from the Mantanzas inlet against oysters that have been growing naturally in the Halifax river or Indian River.
    We already know that micro plastics in the ocean are a huge problem, however it seems to be based upon location, and season, according to one study done on filter feeding sharks and rays in the Philippines. So my scientific questions is will oysters that are harvested during winter, spring and the beginning of summer have different concentrations of microplastics. I may also include a separate group from each that are harvest before a storm, and harvested a few days after it has stormed. I do think that there is a correlation between runoff and the amount of plastics found in oysters and other filter feeding organisms around the Florida Coast. Please let me know what you think of these ideas. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hannah Vu-Bennett (UR): Toxic water

For my IRP, I want to test well water throughout Volusia County for possible contaminate.  The majority of the water we use for daily living is pumped from aquifers beneath us. Due to the porosity and permeability of Florida’s surface, it makes it easier for chemicals and toxic waste to leach into our aquifers. Our groundwater is not only vulnerable to toxic runoff, but the impacts of over pumping and development could lead to saltwater intrusion. It’s a difficult and costly process to reverse the effects of saltwater intrusion. Although our drinking water is filtered through water treatment plants and filtration systems, it’s not uncommon for aquifers to be contaminated.
Image result for aquifer pumping system florida
This is a representation of a Well system pumping water from an Aquifer.

Every year during hurricane season, toxins are more likely to enter aquifers through storm surges and flooding. Floodwater is contaminated with toxic bacteria and chemicals which is then absorbed into our groundwater, affecting public, as well as private water supply.  The effects Hurricane Irma had on our environment lead me to wonder on the safety our water and what possible impacts the hurricane had on our aquifers.
Image result for aquifer contamination
This image shows the process of contaminated groundwater can go.