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Students gather support for Puerto Rico, Mexico

During the recent Marine-Estuarine Environmental Sciences Colloquium, two graduate students called on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science community for support after two natural disasters devastated their communities. In eight days, they raised $3,455, surpassing their goal of $2,500.

Zoraida Perez Delgado of Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Ana Sosa of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, and Juan Alvarez of Horn Point Laboratory organized the fund.

During Colloquium, Perez Delgado spoke about the struggles that Puerto Ricans facing after Hurricane Maria engulfed the island as a Category 4 on Sept. 20, while Sosa spoke about the devastation left in Mexico in the wake of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Sept. 19.

"My fellow students and I are very touched by all the support we have received following both disasters," Delgado said. "I would like to say thank you to all of those who have helped and donated to the GoFundMe account, and I ask that everyone continue to spread the message about what has happened in Puerto Rico and Mexico. It will take months, if not years, for our homes to get back to what they once were."

"Every single effort is greatly appreciated," Sosa said.

The money raised will be equally divided between Puerto Rico and Mexico, and will go to vetted programs whose purpose are to help with disaster relief in these areas.

IMET's Maurer takes marine skills to Disney's Epcot

Leah Maurer She gets to interact with these two dolphins on a daily basis.

Leah Maurer, who studied under Dr. Sook Chung at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Science, recently started working as a research associate at The Seas in Walt Disney World's Epcot.

"I work with many animals, including marine fish, dolphins, sharks, and rays," she said. "One exciting project I assist on is the dolphin project, which studies the cognition and vision of dolphins (among other things). Guests can even see some research sessions in progress at The Seas."

"The research that I'm involved in focuses on improving the welfare of animals in the aquarium and applying that knowledge to other facilities and to the populations in the wild," she continued. "Because I work in Epcot, I am given a lot of opportunities to educate the public about marine life and the importance of conservation."

At IMET, Maurer studied the early development of the blue crab, specifically trying to understand the dietary conditions that influence how crustaceans grow. She successfully defended her master's thesis in July 2017.