UNF Student Receives Timucuan Preserve Research Grant
University of North Florida biology graduate student Liliana Kolluri was awarded a $500 research grant from the Timucuan Preserve Student Research Grant Program to further her research with the diamondback terrapin population.
“It’s an honor to receive this grant and I am very grateful for the support from the Timucuan Preserve,” said Kolluri. “Every little bit counts, and this money will help me cover the expenses of my field research and my living expenses, so that I can give 100 percent to this project.”
The basis of Kolluri’s Master’s thesis involves surveying for diamondback terrapin populations from the Florida-Georgia border, south through Flagler County. Four UNF undergraduate biology majors are also working with Kolluri as part of the “terrapin team.” This study area encompasses four Florida counties and represents more than 100 miles of terrapin habitat. The diamondback terrapin is the only North American turtle that prefers the brackish water habitat of the Intracoastal Waterway and its adjacent salt marshes.Threats to its continued existence include habitat alterations and drowning in crab traps, both problems caused by humans.
“The project goal is to locate population centers and nesting areas, so they can be managed and protected,” explained Dr. Joe Butler, UNF biology professor. “The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve Research Grant will help support Liliana, particularly during the field data collection stage.”
To qualify for the research grant, applicants had to be currently enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students and submit research project proposals. The purpose of the grant is to provide the student with financial support while conducting research. Kolluri must complete her final research report by the end of this year and will present her work at the 4th annual “Timucuan Science and History Symposium” in January.
The National Park Service and its official Friends Group, the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation, hosted an awards ceremony for the second year of the program, which was established through sponsorships at the annual “Timucuan Science and History Symposium” earlier this year.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this grant program to support students, so they can conduct research in the Timucuan Preserve. There is so much to learn about this complex ecosystem…” said Maria Mark, TTPF executive director.
Symposium sponsors include UNF President John Delaney, UNF’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute. Next year, the Preserve hopes to increase the level of sponsors to be able to double the number of grants available, awarded in $500 or $1000 increments, depending on the sponsorship level.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.
Jessica Barber, Public Relations Specialist
Department of Public Relations