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Georgia Southern biology graduate students awarded sea grants for research

William Annis and Lauren Moniz
William Annis and Lauren Moniz are seen with ribbed mussels and a sting ray as part of their research.

Two graduate students from Georgia Southern University’s Department of Biology have been awarded major grants for their research in marine biology.

William Annis and Lauren Moniz were each awarded Graduate Research Traineeships worth more than $20,000 from the Georgia Sea Grant. The awards will support their research as they work toward completing their masters degrees. 

Annis is studying the ecology of the ribbed mussel, which lives in the mud of Georgia’s tidal flats and saltmarshes. The mussel’s significance plays an important role in stabilizing valuable coastal marshes. Annis will use surveys and field experiments to determine the factors that maximize mussel survival.

“This research has important management implications for coastal Georgia,” says assistant professor John Carroll, Ph.D., Annis’s advisor in the Department of Biology. “Given the uniqueness of Georgia’s estuaries – high river input, high sediment loads, extreme tides – data on the ecology of these mussels in Georgia marshes will help optimize their potential use in marsh restoration projects.”

Moniz is investigating the biology of several species of stingrays that are common along the Georgia coast who act as mesopredators that feed on smaller animals low in the food chain and then make energy available to larger species at the top of the food chain.  

“By studying energy flow in an important link in coastal food chains, Moniz’s research will give us a better understanding of the health of our productive coastal ecosystems,” said assistant professor Christine Bedore, Ph.D., Moniz’s advisor in the Department of Biology.

Associate professor Checo Colon-Gaud, Ph.D., director of the graduate program in the Department of Biology, emphasized the importance of graduate students to the department’s research program. 

“External grant support is vital to the university’s research mission, and we are proud of our graduate students’ ability to compete successfully for funding.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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