11 February 2009

Student profile: Ammie Ortiz

Ammie OrtizWhat is your project about?

My research is on the stresses of the seagrass, Thalassia testudinum. There are different types of stresses but our focus is mostly on the stresses caused by salinity. Some problems that seagrasses face in the bay (Laguna Madre) are reduced salinity levels. Reduced salinity levels are induced by an influx of fresh water from rain showers and at times hurricanes. Large amount of freshwater can drastically reduce salinity levels from normal 35 part per thousand to low levels of 14 part per thousand, nearly wiping out the seagrass beds. Unfortunately, this event recently occurred when Hurricane Dolly hit our coastline and reduced salinity levels to as low as 1 part per thousand (freshwater) in the Laguna Madre. We recreated the event by taking T. testudinum from their natural environment to a controlled tank area and currently monitoring their response to both reduced and increased salinity levels.

What have you learned or enjoyed so far?

Time management and patience would definitely be something I’ve taken from this entire experience so far. Also, the “hands-on” experience in both field work and lab has given me more knowledge and a better appreciation to scientific research. The mentors/professors, too, have made this a great experience for me. They help out in every way possible and encourage us to do more for ourselves.

What are you looking forward to?

I look forward to gaining more insight of the research world as I continue to work on my REU project and meet other successful scientist. Keeping close communications with my mentors/professors is definitely something I’m looking forward to as well, since they are the experts in this field so who better to ask advice. Lastly, with everything I’ve learned and continue to learn, I hope to get accepted to grad school considering that I have more experience in the research field all thanks to this program.

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