College of Charleston marine biology master’s candidate Vanessa Bezy has received a National Geographic Society Young Explorers grant to study sea turtle embryos in Costa Rica from July through October 2012. She will spend time at a mass nesting beach where hundreds of thousands of sea turtles will nest over a period of up to seven days, resulting in many broken eggs. Bezy will research the impact  microbial growth has on the sea turtle embryo development and hatching success.

“Microbes have been blamed for the particularly low hatching success at this beach, but no current research has directly investigated this relationship,” Bezy says. “I hope my research can be applied to local management plans to increase the hatching success. When I graduate, I would love to work for a private conservation organization doing research that can be applied to wildlife conservation.”

National Geographic Society’s Young Explorers Grants (YEG) offer opportunities to individuals ages 18 to 25 to pursue research, conservation, and exploration-related projects consistent with National Geographic’s existing grant programs. They help cover field project costs for these hard working future scientists.

Bezy earned a Conservation Trust grant, which funds innovative and applied approaches to conservation with potential for global application. The Trust encourages projects that engage and inform their areas’ local population with the potential for global application. Projects that hold potential as media subject matter are also encouraged, as National Geographic’s vast audience offers our grantees opportunities to make a broad public impact.

“Vanessa is an amazing young field biologist with experience on four continents,” says Dave Owens, associate dean of the Graduate School of the College of Charleston. “Her ability to secure a prestigious NGS Young Explorers grant shows her amazing initiative and also exemplifies the quality of students in our marine biology master’s program.”

“The College of Charleston has really prepared me to take advantage of opportunities like this,” Bezy says. “My professors have been extremely supportive and their input and advice was invaluable as I went through the application process.”