Carrie Schuman, University of Florida. Ms. Schuman is an Interdisciplinary Ecology PhD candidate at the University of Florida with a focus in fisheries and aquatic sciences. She has a B.S. in marine and freshwater biology from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. in marine science and technology from the University of Massachusetts School of Marine Sciences. The overall topic of her research is the provision of oyster-provided ecosystem services (ecological functions that can be tied to human wellbeing) in the St. Augustine region of Florida, mainly in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Florida provides 10% of the country’s harvested oysters which supports local economy. In addition, oysters contribute to water quality and clarity; sequester carbon; provide microhabitat for small macroinvertebrates that foster productivity of local finfish; and stabilize and protect coastlines from storms and erosion. The first component of her research has been understanding the clearance (filtration) capacity of oysters within the reserve, including how much control oysters may exhibit on controlling phytoplankton growth in the region. The second component of her research involves managing for ecosystem services, including quantifying the provision of those services, and how that provision may change in relation to management activities. To tie these services to human wellbeing, she believes it is also important to understand which services members of the community are using and how they value them. She plans to use focus groups and other social science methods to gather information on what characteristics commercial and recreational oystermen, and fishermen who target finfish near reefs, use to choose reefs, where in the reserve they choose them, how frequently and in what manner they utilize them, and what additional oyster services they may value.
Ms. Schuman’s interests extend beyond research and include scientific education, outreach, and communication; policy; and economics. She has pursued opportunities to foster these aptitudes, including teaching as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow during her masters, and writing and blogging regularly to translate science for multiple audiences. She also has been involved with UF’s Tropical Conservation and Development (TCD) certificate program, which learning about conflict management and facilitation and international perspectives on natural resource management. She has engaged in volunteer and leadership activities relating to her studies for over 15 years, including mentoring a Florida State Science Fair first-place awardee in the environmental category, serving on the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and serving as a leader for service learning projects in Nicaragua and New Zealand.
Ms. Schuman foresees many types of opportunities and organizations post-graduation that might support her professional goals. One specific possibility is extension work through a university Sea Grant program.