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Islander Students Awarded Scholarships for Fisheries Studies

February 28, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – With the mission of promoting the development of fishery professionals throughout the United States, the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) awarded three of the Island University’s very own for their drive and passion for fishery-related studies. Hailey Boeck, Kesley Gibson, and Elizabeth Hunt, graduate students in the College of Science and Engineering (COSE) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, were each awarded a $1,500 scholarship by the TCAFS for their academic excellence, promise of future professional involvement and contributions to the field of fisheries science. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is proud to host a student chapter of the AFS.

All three students are currently enrolled in programs that consist of fishery-related curricula, with each student focusing on a different area of study. Boeck, a first year master’s student in the marine biology program, is researching a parasite called Bonamia, that in 1979, caused a mass mortality of oysters in French waters and has been found in many bodies of water surrounding the United States. Boeck hopes that through her research she will be able to understand if the parasite poses a threat to Gulf of Mexico oysters.

“Obviously receiving any scholarship is exciting, but when it is directly related to your field of study, it’s especially thrilling,” said Boeck. “Being recognized with others at this awesome university and by the professionals in my field of study—that is truly humbling. I am extremely blessed for this opportunity.”

Gibson, a marine biology doctoral student and student member of the AFS, has focused her research on artificial reef habitat. Her work looks at use of artificial reef by species including red snapper and multiple species of sharks. As a doctoral student in the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation in the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at A&M-Corpus Christi, Gibson sees this award as a push to believe in the importance of her findings as a researcher and attributes much of her success to her professors.

“Awards like this aren’t just financial,” Gibson said. “They build confidence in each recipient’s future. Without generous foundations supporting students, along with professors who have a genuine interest in student success, research and education would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.”

Hunt, a second year master’s student in the fisheries and mariculture program, is president of A&M-Corpus Christi’s AFS. Focusing her research on the study of evolutional relationships between two different groups of marine fishes, she hopes to better understand the biogeography of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Alongside her fellow recipients, Hunt is grateful and humbled to be awarded by an organization she has dedicated her time and efforts to engaging students in on campus.

“I am extremely thankful for the financial opportunity,” said Hunt. “It is always nice to be acknowledged for the hard work that you do, and especially by a professional organization that you are a part of.”

All three students are working diligently under the supervision Island University COSE professors. Boeck is working under Dr. John Scarpa, Associate Professor of Aquaculture; Gibson is working closely with Dr. Greg Stunz, Professor of Marine Biology and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health; and Hunt is working with Dr. David Portnoy, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology.