FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE PROFESSOR RECEIVES GRANT TO RESEARCH FLORIDA'S CORAL REEFS

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 12:49 PM CDT

LAKELAND, Fla., June 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Southern College Assistant Professor of Marine Biology Dr. Jason Macrander has been awarded a research grant by the "Protect Our Reefs" Grants Program through Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. The project titled "Can Coral Venom Expression Predict Propagule Growth," is a collaborative research grant between Florida Southern College and the University of South Florida.

Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Macrander was awarded a collaborative research grant, and the...
Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Macrander was awarded a collaborative research grant, and the project is titled (PRNewswire)

Florida Southern College will lead the research project, receiving two-thirds of the grant funds. The project involves opportunities shared between the two schools, specifically benefiting and involving two undergraduate students from each institution. Florida Southern students enrolled in their capstone research for fall and spring semesters in 2022-23 will collect genetic signatures of coral propagules in a high-food and low-food environment to determine the role venom may have on coral propagule health and long-term coral reef recovery efforts.

"The grant includes providing financial compensation for students as they are expected to contribute additional time outside of class to meet the project objectives," Dr. Macrander said.

FSC student Rose Laconto '23 will be able to work with corals, but also gain new skills in genetic and bioinformatic analysis to meet the objectives of the proposed research. Laconto, who is from Oxford, Mass., is involved with the Tri-Rho Marine Biology Honors Society.

"I'm super excited to be learning more about coral biology through this project," Laconto said. I'm hoping that our findings can really make a difference in restoration efforts!"

Dr. Brad Gemmell at USF will lead their portion. The two met when the biology department invited Gemmell to speak at FSC in 2019. He spoke about adaptations that take place at the microscale to permit organisms to move more efficiently in the water. Dr. Gemmell's background is in fluid dynamics and animal behavior.

"We have complementary skills to accomplish the goals of the grant, with a shared interest in coral reef restoration and coral biology," Dr. Macrander said. The collaboration is "essential to establishing connections among other institutions and provide opportunities for students to network and be exposed to new ideas and form collaborative research projects like this one."

The two educators hope this grant will serve as a seed grant for a larger National Science Foundation (NSF) or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant in the future.

The grant is funded by the state of Florida through the Mote Marine Laboratory. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles sells vehicle specialty license plates for a variety of causes. "Protect Our Reefs" plate purchases help to fund research.

"The Mote grant is for one year; I anticipate our results will be published in a scientific journal summer 2023, with students taking lead author positions," Dr. Macrander said. "A main focus is student training in this area as there is so much that needs to be done to restore our coral reefs."

About Florida Southern College

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in the state. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, nursing, and physical therapy. Florida Southern has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning, and boasts 30 NCAA Division II National Championships. Florida Southern is ranked at #8 among the "Best Regional Universities in the South" by U.S. News & World Report in its 2022 "Best Colleges" guide and is included in The Princeton Review's 2022 Best 387 Colleges guide and the "Fiske Guide to Colleges 2022." The 2021-2022 Colleges of Distinction guidebook praises Florida Southern's AACSB accredited Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise alongside the College's School of Education and its Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Poets&Quants, U.S. News & World Report, Fortune, and The Princeton Review further laud the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise and the Ann Blanton Edwards School of Nursing and Health Sciences as foremost programs in the nation for business and nursing education. Home to the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, FSC has appeared on The Princeton Review's top 20 "Most Beautiful Campus" national listing for 12 consecutive years. Connect with Florida Southern College.

Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Macrander was awarded a collaborative research grant, and the...
Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Macrander was awarded a collaborative research grant, and the project is titled (PRNewswire)
Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Fla. (PRNewsfoto/Florida Southern College)
Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Fla. (PRNewsfoto/Florida Southern College)(PRNewswire)

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