Of the 412 oral and poster presentations, 276 were presented by students, making BEM one of the top “student friendly” scientific conferences in the country. “The BEM provides an outlet for people working on some of the most diverse and important environments on earth to inform others in their field of the most current findings of their research,” said Matthew Gilg, event organizer and President of the Benthic Ecology Meeting Society.
This year’s 515 attendees were from across the U.S. as well as 14 other countries. “This is a perfect venue for students to present their research and to make connections for graduate school or employment,” said Cliff Ross, event co-host and Assistant Chair of Biology at the UNF.
Session topics included habitat restoration, coral reef ecology, larval ecology and invasive species. The grand finale was a banquet on Saturday announcing category winners.
First place winner of the graduate student oral presentation was Guillermo Longo from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Rachel Welicky, a graduate student at Arkansas State University took second place and third place went to Will Ryan from Florida State University. Emily Duwan from Villanova University won first place in the undergraduate Oral Presentation category.
Sam Crickenberger from Clemson University was the first place winner of the graduate student poster presentations. The second place winner was Megan Riley, from the University of South Carolina and third place went to Liz Duermit of the College of Charleston.
Colleen Bove from the University of North Carolina Wilmington was the first place winner of the undergraduate poster presentations. The second place winner was Katherine Newcomer of Williams College and third place went to Corrinne Fuchs from the University of Florida.
For the fifth year the BEM hosted the Beneath the Waves film festival. “The festival has evolved to one of the largest student run marine biology film festivals in the world”, said Austin Gallagher, co-Director, Founder, and a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami.
This year’s People’s Choice award went to Michael and Chelsey Crandall from Oxypode Productions for their film Michael and the Peppermints. A Tale of Two Urchins made by Sofia Costello y Tickell and Robert Lamb students from Brown University won Best Scientific Message.
Next year’s BEM meeting will be hosted by Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada.
Ross notes that he is proud of the resources that a brand new Biology building provides students. “One of the reasons we wanted to host the conference was to draw international attention to our Biology program,” he said. To learn more about the University of North Florida’s Biology program visit their website.