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Daytona State Professor Has High Hopes For Program, Sh.O.R.E. 2015

Nov 5th, 2015 | Category: Announcements, MDC News

By Lisa D. Mickey

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Institute of Marine & Environmental Studies (IMES) program at Daytona State College all began with a need and a seed.

That’s because when Dr. Debra Woodall came to Daytona State in 2008, the former field scientist in oceanography still had a need to get her hands dirty in field work.

Recognizing that she was now based adjacent to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon gave the professor a seed of an idea, which she presented to the college’s administration.

“A lot of my research was conducted in the Indian River Lagoon, so I knew about all the opportunities there for student research,” she said. “I went to our administration at Daytona State and told them I wanted to create new oceanography courses and a new associate of arts transfer track in marine science, marine biology, oceanography and marine engineering.”

Dr. Debra Woodall

Dr. Debra Woodall

That was the beginning of IMES and the program was officially launched in 2010. The goal has been to fully engage students in the marine and environmental sciences and give them the chance to gain hands-on experience in a two-year, transfer-track college program.

“To be honest, many students don’t get this type of experience in field work at four-year colleges,” said Woodall. “We have state-of-the-art instruments, a boat, a wonderful lab and we get students out there to teach them what it’s really like to be a marine or environmental scientist.”

“We want Daytona State College to be the place for college students to get their marine science degrees started and what we do here fully prepares them to transfer into four-year college programs,” added Woodall.

 Dr. Debra Woodall

Dr. Debra Woodall

That same desire to motivate undergraduates to proactively present their research to the public also led to the creation of this year’s inaugural Sh.O.R.E. 2015 symposium, a daylong forum planned for Friday, Nov. 6, at the Daytona State College News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach.

IMES, along with the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach and the Florida Section American Water Resources Association, will co-sponsor the event whose objective is “Sharing Our Research With Everyone” (ShORE) on the Indian River Lagoon. The forum is designed to give high school science students and college undergraduates a chance to discuss their own research alongside science professionals.

“The Sh.O.R.E. forum will give students an opportunity to experience being a scientist,” said Woodall, assistant chair of Daytona State’s IMES program. “It allows them to network and be mentored and encouraged by those in the industry, which we know increases student retention in the marine sciences.”

Dr. Debra Woodall

Dr. Debra Woodall

Woodall believes this week’s forum will also benefit the public, providing citizen scientists with information about local programs, such as water-quality testing, with which they can become involved. In addition, local anglers can learn more about the quality of Indian River Lagoon habitats.

“Who is better to help with citizen science programs than our anglers?” said Woodall. “They can actually supply our students with much-needed resources. I have one student doing research on plastics and she wants to perform fish-gut studies to see what the fish are eating, so local fishermen could help us with that.”

Woodall sees the bigger picture of engaging scientists with the community to examine the lagoon as an economic and recreational resource.

“Our health depends on the lagoon’s health for food and recreation, and tourism depends on its water quality,” Woodall added. “We are part of it and it is part of us, so we have to understand it, research it and share our findings about the lagoon’s health.”

Dr. Debra Woodall

Dr. Debra Woodall

Woodall hopes the Sh.O.R.E. forum becomes an annual event, much as its predecessor, the Indian River Lagoon Forum held in New Smyrna Beach in previous years, attracted local citizens seeking annual updates on the lagoon.

Science professionals will return to this year’s forum to discuss various aspects of the lagoon’s health, but the newest addition will be involvement by young scientists just starting to ply the waters with their own research. The seed has been planted and Woodall is eager to see what grows from the start-up effort.

“Scientists need to work together with the community if we want to have a healthy Indian River Lagoon,” she said. “I really hope the community sees the great value in this event and that the professional scientists see the value of working hand-in-hand with the community. The professionals can do the science, but increasingly, they can’t do it alone.”

The Sh.O.R.E. 2015 forum will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and will conclude around 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be held at the News-Journal Center of Daytona State College, located at 221 N. Beach Street in Daytona Beach.

For more information, visit http://www.daytonastate.edu/shore/ or contact Dr. Debra Woodall at 386-506-3765.

Contact: Lisa Mickey at lisa@marinediscoverycenter.org

Dr. Debra Woodall

Dr. Debra Woodall