Florida Atlantic University has announced the winners of the fourth annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition organized by the Graduate College. The competition forces doctoral and master's students to explain their complex research projects in three minutes or less to an audience with no background in their area of study.
Michelle Edwards, a graduate student in the M.S. in Marine Science and Oceanography program, was awarded runner-up for her 3MT® titled, "Exposure to Multiple Algal Toxins Among Juvenile Bull Sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, in Florida's Indian River Lagoon."
Edwards is a master's student who joined FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Assistant Research Professor Matt Ajemian, Ph.D.'s, Fisheries Ecology and Conservation Lab in August of 2019. Her research is part of a larger collaborative study of the Florida Center for Coastal and Human Health at FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The group is actively trying to understand the effects of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem.
Edwards' research focuses on the accumulation of harmful algal bloom toxins in the tissues of bull sharks. Edwards graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport with her Bachelors of Science in Aquatic Ecology. She also worked with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the University of Vermont before pursuing her graduate studies at FAU.
"Michelle's research is providing a glimpse into how HAB toxins manifest in top predators like sharks of the Indian River Lagoon," said Dr. Ajemian. "Given the novelty of the work and controversy surrounding the ecosystem effects of HABs, we are fortunate to have such a well-rounded and dedicated student tackling the issue. Moreover, Michelle's ability to effectively communicate our important findings to the public is reflective of her growing ability to connect our research to the stakeholders."