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Kevin Anderson's Senior Year Experience - Coral reef research

Posted on Apr 22, 2010
Kevin Anderson is using computer programs and high-resolution digital photographs to measure the growth rate of a Caribbean coral.
click to enlarge
Kevin Anderson points out features in a high-resolution image of a coral reef to Dr. Ed Burkett, whos advising him on his project.

Kevin Anderson points out features in a high-resolution image of a coral reef to Dr. Ed Burkett, who's advising him on his project.

Kevin Anderson

Major: Biology

For his Senior Year Experience, Kevin Anderson is analyzing the growth rate of Boulder Star Coral on a reef at Caye Caulker in Belize.

Anderson has been part of Dr. Ed Burkett's Caribbean Coral Reef Studies program, taking part in the biology class and the student research team that visited the Caye Caulker reef each year. To gather data for his project, Anderson is using high-resolution digital images taken by CCRS students over the past four years.

Using the images, Anderson locates clusters of Boulder Star Coral, labels them and records them using an area analysis computer program. Comparing photos from year to year, he then calculates the growth rate and exports that data into a statistical program to analyze factors that may be affecting the coral's growth or decline.

Anderson began his project in October 2009 and expects to present it at the Natural Sciences Department research symposium in May 2010. He estimates he has put in 150 hours on the project, and he still has work to do.

For Anderson, the project has required him to use skills he's gained in previous classes but it's also helped him learn new skills.

"This is a big help in learning how to use statistical programs and how to apply them to a real-world project," he said. "It also helps me to build on other projects I've done with Dr. Burkett."

Learn more about the Senior Year Experience

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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