California State University, Northridge (CSUN) professor Dr. Peter Edmunds has been doing field research in the shallow reefs off the coast of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands for close to 30 years. The data collected by Dr. Edmunds and his team has enabled him to construct something like a time-lapse animation of coral recruitment and growth for many species including Porites astreoides (mustard hill coral) in the relatively pristine Great Lameshur Bay of Virgin Islands National Park. Professor Edmunds wants to understand long-term ecological trends and potential environmental effects on the coral communities, and the mustard hill coral is one example of an important coral whose population can be studied in detail. After his extensive yearly field work concludes, Professor Edmunds returns to CSUN where the data analysis begins. For more than a decade, Professor Edmunds has been funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct the basic research, but these funds extend to important outreach activities conducted with high schools in the Los Angeles area. Working in close partnership with teachers, the objective is to provide opportunities for meaningful student involvement in ongoing field research. Currently these outreach activities are supported through an additional award from NSF — Research Experience for Teachers (RET) — that created new and exciting opportunities at Campbell Hall.

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Coral Research in the Marine Science Classroom