Contending for coral

University of Miami student wins national scholarship for coral research

VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (Oct. 20, 2006) – Student Coral Researcher Wade Cooper has been awarded a 2006 Canon National Parks Science Scholarship in biological sciences for his exploration of coral reef ecosystems and their management. Only last month Cooper, from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, won a fellowship from the International Society for Reef Studies and The Ocean Conservancy, with his proposal surfacing above those of more than 80 world-wide competitors on "the effects of site quality on settlement and early post-settlement dynamics in Scleractinians (stony corals)."

Cooper, with the help of his adviser Dr. John McManus, is currently developing a doctoral dissertation that considers the early life stage dynamics of stony corals (i.e. brain corals) within their natural environment to help scientists aid in coral's survival in the face of modern-world challenges, including an increasingly acidic marine environment and global warming. As a part of the National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE), Cooper primarily concerns himself with developing population-forecasting models based on his studies of the recruitment stage of coral development.

First receiving a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in wildlife and fisheries science from Pennsylvania State University, Cooper continued on to the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned his master's degree in environmental, population and organismic biology. As a Pennsylvania native, and with a master's thesis written on the effects of suburban edges on grassland birds' distribution and demography, Cooper found the study of coral reefs to be an exotic and fascinating academic pursuit.

"One ecosystem invariably affects the rest," Cooper said, noting that his research pursuits, though complex, offer meaningful answers to a worldwide problem. "The impact of coral reefs' disappearance will undoubtedly have global repercussions. It's this kind of science that can help protect these delicate, yet invaluable marine ecosystems."

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The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program is a collaborative effort between Canon USA Inc., the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the U.S. National Park Service. The program awards eight $80,000 scholarships to Ph.D. students to advance research that it deems vital to the conservation of national parks within the United States. Among those eligible are research projects in biological, physical, social, technologically innovative, and cultural fields of science.

Rosenstiel School is part of the University of Miami and, since its founding in the 1940s, has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. See http://www.rsmas.miami.edu


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