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US Students invited to come study coral reefs in Cayman Islands

(DiverWire) The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The “Coral Reef Biodiversity and Resilience” REU is an award that supports US undergraduates to come and study one of the most resilient coral reef ecosystems in the region. CCMI has space for 8 students, who will each be paired with a research mentor for an 8 week experience living and working at our research home in Little Cayman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe REU program at the Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC) offers the experience of studying at a fully operational field station and developing academically, whilst experiencing ‘island life’ at its finest. The station is located on the shores of the Bloody Bay Marine Park – providing easy access to the field and panoramic surroundings.

The location provides a rare opportunity to conduct research on a small remote Caribbean island with low human impacts. The reefs in Little Cayman are recovering from the 1998 El Nino event, which resulted in high sea temperatures that killed corals on a global scale. The processes that are driving this recovery, however, are still unknown. Therefore, this REU gives rich and timely opportunities to closely examine ecosystem stress and recovery from a number of perspectives. For those interested in coral reef ecology, now is the right time to be visiting this unique reef system to study its resilience. Unlocking the secrets to the recovery of the reefs will be key to providing conservation techniques and policy for the future.

In addition to being able to conduct their own research, REU participants will attend workshops on career skills in science, participate in excursions on and around Little Cayman and interact with local conservation professionals (such as the Rock Iguana Protection Team, the National Trust and the Community Lionfish Culling Team). The cultural and social experience provided by this REU is one unique aspect of working and living in a small island community, with a strong community emphasis on supporting local environmental conservation and education activities.

CCMI provides a variety of education programs for Caymanian and international students of all age groups, training a new generation of leaders, researchers, policymakers and resource managers. Courses are offered at the Little Cayman Research Centre to provide unique opportunities for hands-on experience in a pristine marine ecosystem and interaction with resident educators and scientists.

Interested in applying? Visit our website www.reefresearch.org/research to learn more about your eligibility, mentor options and research topics, then put together a research proposal and apply online. Contact: LittleCaymanREU@reefresearch.org with any questions.