Dauphin Island marine scientist to address Auburn’s student-led ecology and evolution conference

AUBURN – Auburn University will host the eighth annual Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference, March 25-27. The conference is a professional meeting organized by students for early-career researchers in ecology, evolution and related fields with nearly 200 students from around the United States attending.

Monty Graham, Dauphin Island’s senior marine scientist, was selected to give the keynote address because of his extensive knowledge of the Gulf Coast as well as his scientific research efforts following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Graham’s talk will be in Auburn’s Sciences Center auditorium Friday, March 25 at 6 p.m. and is open to the public; registration is required to attend the remainder of the conference.

Graham has conducted research in the Gulf of Mexico for the last 15 years. He specializes in monitoring the effects of disasters, both natural and man-made, on the highly variable Gulf Coast ecosystem. His lecture will include an overview of the state of the Gulf Coast since the oil spill.

Graham, who says that two hundred million gallons of oil was released into the Gulf last summer, will adddress overarching questions such as where the oil went and what sources we use to get information.

“When publishing and answering questions about science during a crisis, you don’t have time to go through all of your information, sort through all of the data and have your peers conduct a review before going public,” Graham said. “I hope to give some of the young scientists at the conference a glimpse of what it’s like to do scientific research during a crisis situation and to emphasize the importance of how you communicate as a scientist.”

“At this point, the public will be distrustful of anyone that says the oil can largely be handled by natural weathering and biological consumption,” Graham said. “And we often prefer to think through a scenario based on information we have received through non-scientific venues.”

For more information, go to http://gump.auburn.edu/seec2011/.

Each year the Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference, organized by and for students, is hosted by a different southeastern university. The conference is a professional meeting designed for graduate and undergraduate students and post-docs in ecology, evolution, environmental sciences, limnology, forestry, fisheries, marine sciences and other related fields.

(Written by Candis Birchfield.)

Contact: Johanna Cannon, (334) 844-3223, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)