DKU student accepted to elite marine conservation research program

Catherine Brenner ’22 collects clams on the beach in North Carolina

By DKU Staff

Duke Kunshan junior Catherine Brenner has earned a coveted spot on the Rachel Carson Scholars Program, which provides Duke University undergraduate students with research experience and mentoring in marine science and conservation.

Based at the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML), the program involves directed research with a faculty mentor that builds to a senior thesis. Participants can also apply for up to US$2,500 in research funding, take part in professional scientific conferences, and enroll in a DUML travel course.

”I’m thrilled to be accepted,’ said U.S. student Brenner, who has been studying at the DUML since the start of the fall semester. ‘It’s great to be able to develop friendships with other students who share an enthusiasm for marine science.

‘The Rachel Carson Scholars Program focuses on mentorship. It funds independent undergraduate research projects in marine science and provides biweekly career mentorship for students in their senior year.’

Brenner, who majors in environmental science (biology track), said the program will help fund and inform her Signature Work project at Duke Kunshan.

She is currently working on two community ecology projects in Duke’s Silliman Lab under the mentorship of Brian Silliman, the Rachel Carson Distinguished Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy, and Ph.D. students Joe Morton and Stephanie Valdez.

One project looks at how parasitism and beach renourishment affect food web interactions on the beaches of North Carolina, while the other examines habitat fragmentation in seagrass beds, and the role of megafauna such as stingrays and manatees in causing fragmentation.

‘I’m super grateful for the opportunity to study at DUML,’ Brenner said. ‘Everyone at the DUML has been so welcoming and supportive.’

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