UNCW Students Make Strong Showing at Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Four UNCW students came away with top honors at the 2017 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium April 7-9 in Beaufort, NC. The Duke University Marine Lab and the Friends of the Maritime Museum hosted the event.

Individual presentations by undergraduate Honors College students Amelia Johnson ’17 and MaryKathleen Ryan ’17 tied for first place with a student from Savannah State University for Best Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation, while master’s candidate Jackie Kroeger ’15, ‘17M and doctoral candidate Tiffany Keenan-Bateman ’15M, ’20 Ph.D., were recognized for Best Poster Presentation.

“We are all very proud of the effort put forth by our students and the resulting honors,” said Christopher Finelli, chair of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. “The successful partnership between these motivated students and their faculty mentors speaks to the strength of UNCW’s coastal and marine science programs, as well as the students’ expertise on the topics they covered.”

Johnson’s oral presentation was on the “North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) presence and distribution in the waters of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina from 1998 to 2015.” Ryan presented an “Analysis of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) strandings in North Carolina during the 2013-2015 Mid-Atlantic Morbillivirus Unusual Mortality Event.”

Kroeger’s poster presentation was on the topic, “Locomotor muscle morphology of three species of pelagic delphinids,” while Keenan-Bateman’s poster was on her dissertation research plan, “An investigation into the chemosensory biology of odontocete cetaceans.”

UNCW sent 13 people to the meeting, including the four students whose projects were recognized. Other UNCW students attending the symposium were undergraduates Jackson Bialkek ’17, Natalie Hunter ’17 and Jamie Knaub ’17, each of whom presented, as well as Chrissy Conrad ’17 and Trevor Roche ’19. Also presenting were university employees and alumni Erin Cummings ’05, ’13M, and Ryan McAlarney ’01 of the aerial survey team in the Marine Mammal Stranding Program lab.

“UNCW students made a very strong showing at the symposium,” said Ann Pabst, professor of biology and marine biology. Pabst also works with the Marine Mammal Stranding Program at UNCW, which responds to calls of beached sea mammals. “It is important that students be able to participate in events, like SEAMAMMS, that allow them to refine their presentation skills and to interact with professional researchers and other students in their discipline.”

The SEAMAMMS symposium is an event sponsored by the international Society for Marine Mammalogy, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting marine mammal science globally.

-- Tricia Vance