Undergraduate Students Present Hawaiian Monk Seal Research at National Museum of Natural History and the Marine Mammal Commission


Marine Biology majors (L-R): Krista Colburn, Samantha McNear, and Courtney Cenkner

Three marine biology majors at the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences presented their independent study research on Hawaiian monk seals to researchers at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and to members of the Marine Mammal Commission in Bethesda, Maryland, March 26–27, 2015.

Students Courtney Cenkner, Krista Colburn, and Samantha McNear presented their study titled “Hawaiian Monk Seals: Record of Environmental Influence in an Endangered Species” to marine mammal scientists, marine fishery experts, marine economists, and maritime lawyers.

Charles Potter, curator of marine mammals at the museum and a collaborator on the project, hosted the students along with faculty advisor Amy Hirons, Ph.D., assistant professor, who chairs the marine biology major at the college and serves as a research collaborator at the museum.

Students gave a short talk at the museum followed by a detailed tour of the stable isotope facilities and extensive marine mammal collections at the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland.

The following day, they gave a presentation to the Marine Mammal Commission whose members include marine mammal scientists, marine fishery experts, marine economists, and maritime lawyers.

Cenkner was a co-author of the preliminary monk seal research poster that received an honorable mention at the college’s 2014 Undergraduate Student Symposium. She plans to attend veterinary technician school. Colburn plans to work in the field before attending graduate school. McNear is working as a veterinary technician and plans to apply to veterinary school. All three students presented the Hawaiian monk seals’ research at the 2015 Undergraduate Student Symposium.

Click here to learn more about the Hawaiian monk seal research project.


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