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Coastal Connections Cultivates Science Communicators

On Sept. 22, Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) held its annual Coastal Connections Competition on the Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge campus. It drew an applicant pool of 17 students representing four different departments. After whittling the field down, 12 students presented their work and its implications to a public audience.

Coastal Connections encourages graduate students to think about their research in a different way. Typically, the results of their work are presented at conferences to audiences of similar disciplines. This competition, however, is geared toward the general public so students have to adapt their discussion, remove jargon and present to a group of non-specialists.

Students are also restricted on time and content. Coastal Connections forces students to distill their research into a clear, compelling oration of no more than three minutes with the use of only two slides.

The top three finalists (listed below) each received $500 of research travel award money.

  • Julie Butler, Department of Biological Sciences, presented A Little Fish in a Big, Noisy World.
  • Hollis Jones, Department of Biological Sciences, presented Effects of Temperature and Salinity on Crassostrea virginica Feeding Physiology and Oxygen Consumption.
  • Yaping Xu, Department of Geography and Anthropology, presented Determine Soil Moisture through Satellite and Geoinformation Data to Predict Flood in Louisiana.

All 12 presentations will be made available at a later date on Louisiana Sea Grant’s website –

Pictured left to right are Jay Grymes, chief meteorologist for WAFB-TV (competition judge); Julie Butler; Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant executive director; Hollis Jones; Prosanta Chakrabarty, LSU associate professor of biological sciences (judge); Yaping Xu; and Amy Clipp, who helped write both of the state’s Coastal Master Plans (judge).