Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will be represented this month at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ (CSGS) 3MT® (Three Minute Thesis) Competition in Charlotte, North Carolina. Avery Scherer, a PhD candidate in the marine biology program and winner of the first annual 3MT competition held at TAMU-CC, will present her dissertation research which investigates oysters’ ability to adapt their shells to reduce their risk of predation. 3MT® competitions are designed to help new scientists learn to present their work to non-scientist audiences and to bridge the communication gap between the scientific community and the public. During the competition, Avery will be expected to distill the details and complexity of her dissertation work into a presentation which is accessible to lay members of the community and extends no longer than 3 minutes.
Avery’s research examines the Eastern oyster, an ecologically important species which creates habitat along the entire Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. Additionally, the oyster is an economically important species which supports a popular fishery. Her work shows that oysters are able to adapt their shells when they smell nearby predators, such as crabs, in ways that make the oysters more difficult for crabs to eat. Avery’s dissertation studies factors, such as the types of smells available and oyster age, which can influence how and when oysters produce these adaptations. In addition to the relevance of this work to oysters themselves, Avery’s presentation stresses that oyster reefs are an endangered habitat type whose organisms needs to be thoroughly understood in order to protect it.
She has two papers accepted for publication related to the research that will be the focus of her 3MT® presentation. Sharing discoveries with the public and fostering scientific communication skills are ideas Avery is very passionate about and she is excited for the opportunity to be the inaugural representative of TAMU-CC at the CSGS in Charlotte this year. Currently in her fourth year of the doctoral program, Avery plans to complete the requirements for her degree in May of 2017.