SMS Student Earns NSF Research Fellowship
Corey Eddy, an SMS Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at UMass Dartmouth, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is intended to support outstanding graduate students in science, technology, and engineering who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. The funds will pay for tuition at UMass and provide a stipend that will enable Corey to finish his degree and continue his research on Galapagos sharks in Bermuda.
Corey's enthusiasm for the study of sharks had its genesis in childhood, but he never thought to pursue it when he left high school. His first attempt at an undergraduate degree began at Oberlin College, where he readily admits that he had no direction. Several semesters later, he abandoned his studies to pursue a job in construction. "In the back of my mind, I always thought of going back to school," Corey notes, and took several night courses to stay fresh. "I didn't want to swing hammers or sling paint until I was 60," he says.Photo Credit: C. Eddy
After reading various books on shark ecology and fisheries, "I realized these things could become a career." He decided to restart his undergraduate work at URI because of their proximity to the Apex Predator Program at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as well as their study abroad program at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. "I knew I was going to study sharks," he says. "That was the entire reason for going back to school."
While volunteering at NMFS, Corey met Dr. Nancy Kohler, who suggested he focus his studies on the Galapagos sharks in Bermuda, known locally as dusky sharks. His studies originally focused on the shark's local movements, large-scale migrations, and life history. With the support of the NSF fellowship, Corey was able to expand his research to focus on the feeding ecology of the species. This is done through the measurement of stable isotope ratios in muscle and
Corey holds a dusky shark. Photo Credit: C. Eddy
tissue samples, as well as vertebrae of sharks from commercial landings. He will also work with local fishermen to tag and release the sharks.
Public outreach is also a focus of Corey's work. He has given talks to the Commercial Fisheries Council, the Marine Resources Board, and the Bermuda Angler's Club. Later on this year, he will also present his research to the Bermuda Zoological Society. As a future educator, he enjoys encouraging future scientists, and will be giving several talks to high school and college students, including those from the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University who are currently spending a semester in Bermuda
In addition to his Galapagos shark research, Corey will be working closely with his advisor, Dr. Diego Bernal, to research the physiological stress response of sharks that are caught in the commercial tuna purse seine
Corey tags a research specimen before release. Photo Credit: C. Eddy