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“This partnership allows students to have hands-on research experience with local estuaries,” says John Fear, deputy director of North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system.
The competitive fellowship, now in its third year, requires graduate students whose institutions are based in either North Carolina or Virginia to conduct applied research within the North Carolina portion of the APNEP region.
“Ms. Yacano’s research has relevance to multiple strategic priorities and goals of our partnership. Thus, we hold great anticipation for a successful project that will have widespread science and policy benefits,” explains APNEP program scientist, Dean Carpenter.
Yacano is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences. Her advisor is Michael Piehler.
She will look at how nitrogen is processed in sediments associated with the invasive genotype of Phragmites australis, also known as common reed. She will compare it with the native genotype of P. australis as well as other dominant native marsh grasses. Marshes are known to act as buffer zones for excess man-made nitrogen, and often are considered the last line of defense before this nitrogen makes its way into adjacent estuarine waters and eventually the open ocean.
“Understanding how invasive species, such as P. australis, change marsh ecosystem functions is vital in order to maintain and protect ecosystems on both local and global scales,” Yacano notes.
She is originally from Richmond, Virginia, and completed her bachelor’s degree in marine science at Boston University. During her undergraduate career, Yacano worked on fisheries and environmental archaeology. She also has participated in numerous educational outreach efforts relating to scientific fields in the Boston area.
Details about this and other Sea Grant fellowships and funding opportunities are available at ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/funding-opps.
North Carolina Sea Grant: Your link to research and resources for a healthier coast