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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."
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