Undergraduate researchers awarded at annual Fisheries meeting

Louisiana Tech undergraduate Biology majors Annabeth Rawls and Caitlyn Fontenot each won student awards after presenting their research at the annual meeting of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) held virtually May 27-28.

It was the first presentation either had given at a scientific meeting.

Rawls, who works with Tech Assistant Professor Dr Jennifer Hill, presented her research on “Crabtivating behavioral analysis: the impacts of fipronil pesticides on Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) behavior.”

“Presenting was such a rush,” said Rawls, who won third place in the student abstract category. “This was the first time I have presented at a conference, so I was not sure what to expect. Overall, it was a great experience being able to share what I have been working on the past year and seeing everyone take interest in it the way I have. And hearing and seeing everyone else present their research helped me learn what I could do to better my own presentation.”

Fontenot’s research was done as part of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)/Louisiana Tech Internship Program; she was mentored by Associate Professor Dr. Terri Maness from Tech and Dr. Abigail Bockus from LUMCON.

The poster presentation of Fontenot’s research was titled “Pass the salt! Environmental predictors of Brown Shrimp abundance in Louisiana.”

“This was my first real scientific presentation, along with my first time using an online meeting platform for such a large audience,” she said. “It felt so gratifying to finally present my research to my peers and receive feedback. It felt even more rewarding when I got second place in the poster division. Turns out all my hard work actually paid off. I do wish that I could have been able to talk to people face-to-face and have a bit more time to elaborate my findings, but now I’m even more prepared for conferences to be back to in person.”

The awards competition grouped undergraduates, master, and PhD students in the same category.

“Our students should be proud of how well they performed,” Maness said. “They exemplified the high standard of research conducted by faculty and students in the School of Biological Sciences and at Louisiana Tech to researchers, agency managers, and other stakeholders throughout the state and across the southern division region.”

All meeting presenters were required to submit an abstract of their presentations, which are then published in the Meeting Abstract Book.


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