Two students were recently awarded scholarships for their work in fisheries and natural resources. Learn more about the recipients.
Suncoast Fly Fishers and Fly Fishers International Conservation Scholarships Awarded to Christina Welsh
On November 8, 2019, Suncoast Fly Fishers (SFF) established the Suncoast Fly Fishers Scholarship at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science to support a graduate student’s research on the conservation, restoration, and reclamation of Tampa Bay and West Coast Florida Fisheries.
The USF College of Marine Science awarded the inaugural SFF scholarship to Christina Welsh, a second-year Ph.D. student studying Biological Oceanography. Christina also applied for the FFI Conservation Grant program for graduate students doing meritorious research.
The FFI Florida Council reviewed and approved Ms. Welsh’s application and research proposal and sent it to David Peterson, FFI Conservation Chair for the FFI Conservation Committee’s review. Christina was awarded the FFI Conservation Award of $2,000 to support her research.
Christina’s research focuses on understanding the metabolic physiology of larval fish concerning climate change. This includes measuring the amount of oxygen consumed by fish at rest and during exercise, and the minimum levels of oxygen needed for survival. By measuring these things at different temperatures, it is possible to estimate how fish populations change as seawater warms. The research will include species that are important components of recreational fisheries in Florida, like Red Drum and Spotted Seatrout.
Excerpt from Christina's essay:
My attraction to ecology began early in life, as it does for many, watching fish in ponds and collecting seashells at the beach. This interest gained focus and direction over the years, eventually leading me the University of South Florida, where I am currently seeking a graduate degree in Biological Oceanography. I am presently enrolled in the MS program, but I have the support of my advisor to transition to the PhD program. However, securing additional funding through scholarships will be integral to support the additional years of schooling that a doctoral degree will require. I plan to one day lead a lab at a university, conducting experiments to investigate the effects of climate change on physiological processes in marine species. This vein of research is critical to preserving the health of wild fish stocks for future generations. As seawater temperatures rise, fish will face unprecedented environmental conditions, and analyses of historical catch data will be unable to predict population-level responses. To properly manage fisheries, it will be necessary to understand how extreme temperatures will impact the physiological function of ecologically and economically valuable species.
The scholarship will provide funds for Kimberly to purchase the proper tools needed for the field experiences that FVTC provides. In addition, the scholarship will allow her to purchase digital mediums needed to provide her a better learning experience overall.
Excerpt from Kimberly's essay:
When I initially decided to return to school when I was 23, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to go to school for. I started off in the Human Resources program at Fox Valley Technical College. After my first semester I realized that wasn’t what my calling was, and I needed to reevaluate my life goals. I remembered growing up being in nature and learning all about our ecosystem was something that I looked back on so fondly. I saw FVTC offered a Natural Resources program and I knew right then and there that was what I was meant to do. As a mother with two young kids, environmental education is something that I find very important. From attending the natural resources program my goal is to gain the knowledge I need to not just teach my own children about our ecosystem but help teach others of all ages and demographics. I want to be able to show everyone why learning about and protecting our fragile ecosystem is so vital. Fox Valley Technical College has been a great institution to help me attain these goals.