Earth system science undergraduate student Priya Kaur was awarded a 2016 Student Presentation Award by the Society of Chicano/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). The award recognized her research presentation on "Evaluating the Influence of Size Variability and Salinity Gradients on Mercury Uptake in Cultured Phytoplankton" at the 2016 SACNAS STEM Conference last October.
As a fourth year undergraduate researcher, Kaur is working on her honors thesis with Professor Kate Mackey. The Mackey Research Lab studies the fascinating organisms at the base of the aquatic food web – phytoplankton. Marine phytoplankton do half of all photosynthesis on Earth and generate half the oxygen we breathe, yet these vital organisms are under threat from human activity. While their numbers are vast, phytoplankton are quite sensitive to changes in temperature, acidity, and nutrient levels in the ocean. Kaur and the team look at how phytoplankton respond to changes in the ocean and they are helping us understand the effects of global climate fluctuations on aquatic ecosystems.
SACNAS aims to foster the success of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans to reach soaring heights in science. This national conference, held over the course of three days, gathered over 4,000 students and professionals, and showcased undergraduate and graduate presentations, as well as keynote addresses and professional development sessions.