A College of Charleston marine biology graduate student is already leaving her mark on sea turtle nesting research. Vanessa Bezy just received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) research fellowship, on top of the National Geographic Society Young Explorers grant she was awarded last June.

“Although much of Vanessa’s work remains to be analyzed, I think her results could be groundbreaking,” says Professor Craig Plante, director of the graduate program in marine biology. “It appears that low hatching success of the olive ridley turtles may be due to excessive heat and low oxygen caused by organic matter decomposition in arribada beach sands. If true, this might explain some long-noted trends in hatching success and could point to potential remediation strategies. Anthropogenic organic loading and global temperature effects could also factor in to the long-term success of this and other oviparous reptiles.”

Bezy is just the second graduate student from the College of Charleston to earn a NSF Fellowship. The award will enable her to continue her research examining the mass nesting sea turtle behavior that she started while earning her master’s degree. The fellowship will contribute to her Ph.D. studies, including a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 along with a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees.

“My work at the College of Charleston has greatly shaped me as a scientist and the mentorship and support of my advisor and committee have been integral in the development of my research proposal and grant applications,” Bezy says.

According to the National Science Foundation’s website, “The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.”

More information about the College’s marine biology graduate program.