Featured Scholar: Emily Mitchem

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Featured Scholar: Emily Mitchem
Moroz, Yelena
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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Featured Scholar:
Emily Maitchem

2005 - 2006 University Scholar
Mentor: Shirley Baker
Honors Program

Perhaps Emily Mitchem's accomplishments come from her fascination with how animals
and systems function. "It's cool learning how living things work," she says. "We have
almost the exact same eyes as an octopus, except theirs are meant for focusing

After dabbling in microbiology and history, the 22-year-old master's student decided on
the UF Fisheries program after graduating summa cum laude in December with a zoology
degree. Her research focuses on marine invertebrates, particularly the coral, Siderastrea
radians, which is found on the west coast of Florida near St. Martin's Keys. Little is
known about these golf ball shaped corals, yet Emily's research may help in
understanding bleaching, a side-effect of global warming on the reef corals.

As a graduate student, Emily plans to conduct the research using field experiments under
the guidance of Dr. Tom Frazer, by building two sets of cages that will be shaded at
different intervals to mimic the effects of algae found in the coral environment. She
hopes these experiments will explain how sun exposure affects the bleaching
phenomenon. She first became interested in this kind of research as an undergraduate in
the University Scholars Program, studying the invasive green mussel, P. viridis, which is
native to the Indo-Pacific and is causing problems in Florida, particularly Tampa Bay.

Emily's passion for invertebrates wasn't always obvious. She knew she liked science, but
the biology class she took in high school was too technical, too remedial. It was in college
that her interest in understanding how living things function inspired her to pursue a
career in marine biology. "Most of the world consists of invertebrates," Emily says. "It's
just such a huge amount of animals, a lot of people don't even really think about them."

In addition to her research accolades, Emily won the 2005-2006 Best Paper Award for
"Native Florida Crustacean Predator Preferences Regarding the Non-Indigenous Green
Mussel, Perna viridis", regarding eating habits of lobsters and blue crabs. Furthermore,
Emily worked as a teaching assistant for FAS 4932, Marine Field Studies, and instructs
NAUI open water scuba with the Academic Diving Program. She also helped re-establish
the Marine Biology Club at UF.

- Yelena Moroz, Features Editor


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