Natural Sciences in Action At USCB
Lowcountry Dolphin Conservation Program
In 2011, Dr. Eric Montie and the USCB Marine Sensory and Neurobiology Lab founded the Lowcountry Dolphin Conservation Program with the support of foundations and private funding.
Twice a month, a team of students and technicians go by boat to perform dolphin visual surveys and water quality measurements in tidal estuaries of Beaufort County. When a dolphin group is sighted, they count the total number of adults, newborns, and calves and record the GPS location of these animals. High quality photographs of each dolphin’s dorsal fin are captured. Software programs are used to identify individual dolphins from a catalogue of known dorsal fins. Residency of each animal is determined using seasonal sighting patterns, and animals are categorized as residents, seasonal residents, or non-residents. A YSI 556 Handheld Multiparameter Instrument is used to measure temperature, salinity, pH, and dissolved.
It is always a challenge to keep monitoring programs alive. Generous community support helps ensure that future generations can enjoy watching dolphins from the May River to the Port Royal sound.
Follow Dr. Monite and local dolphins on Facebook
Vagabond Cruises Internships
Biology students conduct research and learn to be environmental educators through their internships with Vagabond Cruises on Hilton Head Island. Here students Abby Brown and Ian Derry work with Dr. Stephen Borgianini aboard Vagabond’s “Tammy Jane” shrimp trawler.
Tidal Marsh Task Force
Dr. Mercer Brugler's students use molecular tools to identify prokaryotes, protists, fungi, plants and invertebrates living near Beaufort, SC. Here Anyya Jones, Sayge LaRocco, Yessenia Becerra (left to right) take samples of organisms living on a floating dock at the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center. Learn more about the Tidal Marsh Task Force.
Environmental Acoustics and Sensing Research
Biology major Caleb Shedd (left) measures water temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, while Ashlee Seder records these data during a seining trip in the May River. Learn more about this work at Dr. Eric Montie's Marine Sensory and Neurobiology Lab FaceBook Page.
Target-Based Drug Discovery for Coronavirus Disease
USCB undergraduate researcher Shane M. Carey (left) assists associate professor of biochemistry and structural biology Dr. Edward L. D'Antonio on the overexpression of a target protein belonging to SARS-CoV-2 for COVID-19 drug discovery research. Learn more about the D’Antonio Laboratory.
Dr. Tye Pettay discusses environmental sensors used to measure water quality with two summer research assistants. In a program new to Beaufort County, local residents are collecting samples, performing simple water quality tests and providing their data to scientists as part of South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream, a partnership of Clemson Extension, the Port Royal Foundation and University of South Carolina Beaufort. USCB students will analyze these samples in Dr. Pettay’s lab. Learn more about protecting water quality at Dr. Pettay's lab.
USCB students including Lincoln Fuller have been guest researchers on OCEARCH research expeditions studying sharks. The nonprofit organization tags and tracks sharks, whales, turtles and other marine life. USCB’s Dr. Kim Ritchie collaborates with OCEARCH to collect data about the health, reproduction and migratory patterns of North Atlantic White Sharks.
USCB Marine Biology students dominated the virtual stage at the 2021 POSea Conference, which showcased the work of BIPOC marine scientists from around the world. Jicayla Johnson-Rosemond (left) presented her research entitled Bioinformatically mining next-gen capture libraries for black coral mitogenomes and won the Best Presentation Award in the 5-minute lightning talk category. Yessenia Bledsoe-Becerra (right) and Iesha Whittaker (middle) presented Elucidating the black coral microbiome using amplicon sequencing and Assessing the biodiversity of oyster reefs using eDNA, respectively. Learn more about POSea.
Summer Research Opportunites
USCB undergraduate Kristen Mullins inspecting a juvenile alligator for leeches (Summer 2021, Spring Island). More than two dozen University of South Carolina Beaufort undergraduates and recent graduates spent last summer conducting research. USCB’s inaugural Summer Research Experience (SRE) initiative supported students and interns who worked with faculty members in research about coral reef ecology, estuarine soundscapes, health markers in wastewater and other topics. Learn more about USCB summer research opportunities.
Internship Sites – 2023
Port Royal Sound Foundation's Maritime Center: https://portroyalsoundfoundation.org/
Palmetto Bluff Conservancy: https://www.palmettobluff.com/conservation
The Spring Island Trust: https://www.springislandtrust.org/
Nemours Wildlife Foundation: https://nemourswildlifefoundation.org/
Waddell Mariculture Center: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/waddell/index.html
Coastal Discovery Museum: https://www.coastaldiscovery.org/
Oldfield Outfitters: https://oldfield1732.com/
Fripp Island Naturalist Internship: https://frippislandresort.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Summer-Naturalist-Intern.pdf
Audubon Newhall Preserve on Hilton Head Island: https://hiltonheadaudubon.org/audubon-newhall-preserve/
Pritchards Island Sea Turtle Patrol: https://www.eatstayplaybeaufort.com/pritchards-and-little-capers-islands-sea-turtle-patrol/
Shrimp Trawling Expedition: https://www.vagabondcruise.com/shrimping-expedition/
Vagabond Cruise Internship: https://resortinternconnection.com/vagabond-cruise
SC DNR Coastal Conservations Internships (Diversity Outreach Specialist is Juan Aristizabal; firstname.lastname@example.org)
SC DHEC (Internship coordinator is Ronald Miller; MillerR@dhec.sc.gov)
Opterra Solutions (Walterboro, SC; agriculture industry: https://opterrasolutions.com/career-opportunities/internships/
Student Research and Scholarship Day 2023
Water Quality Monitoring in the Port Royal Sound
Lauryn Carrington, Joanna Boney, Sam Messinides, Abby Brown, and Dr. Tye Pettay
Characterization of Sounds Produced by Pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) and Spot
(Leiostomus xanthurus) Acquired in Captive Tanks at the SCDNR Waddell Mariculture
Anneau Cappelmann, Alyssa Marian, Jason Broah, Evan Bowman, Thomas Morgenstern, Eric Levesque, and Dr. Eric Montie
Rapid, Novel, and Sensitive Tertrazoliem-Based Colorimetric Assay for Helicase nsp13
Triet M. Pham, Morgan G. Howard, Shane M. Carey, Dr. Gustavo F. Mercaldi, and Dr. Edward, L. D'Antonio
Carrying Capacity of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in May River Estuary,
South Carolina, USA
Patrick Jones, Alyssa Marian, Dr. Xiaomei Zhang, and Dr. Eric W. Montie
Overexpression, Purification, and Biochemical Evaluation of Trypanosoma cruzi Glucokinase
Bump Mutations for Drug-Target Validation
Lindsey R. Baker, Anna L. Husted, and Dr. Edward L. D'Antonio
Towards the Development of a Dehaloperoxidase-Based Biosensor for Bisphenol A
Emily M. Welles and Dr. Edward L. D'Antonio
Characterizing Oyster Reef Biodiversity using eDNA
Piper Davis, Cassidy Hutto, Zinia Hampleton, Garrett Willford, Debra Phelps. Lauryn Carrington, Iesha Whittaker, Robert Dunn, and Dr. Mercer Brugler
Tracking the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Through Wastewater Monitoring
Sam Messinides, Lauryn Carrington, Zyamanii Baksh, Melfry Gonzalez, and Dr. Tye Pettay