IAP Supports Marine Education on the Gulf Coast
Cape Canaveral, FL – An educational partnership between IAP Worldwide Services, several colleges and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Lab in Pascagoula, Miss. is helping to inspire the next generation of marine scientists.
IAP employs several graduate-level students who are part of a NOAA cooperative education program. In addition to serving as marine biology specialists, the students are conducting research in support of master’s or doctorate degrees at their home universities.
“It’s a win-win opportunity for these co-op students to have the chance to work in an actual marine research lab environment and then use some of that information in their academic pursuits,” says Project Manager Chad Lefferson, who supervises IAP’s 100-plus work force at the Gulf Coast lab, the site of numerous annual fish surveys that assist the federal government with its management and protection of marine fishery resources.
Brittany Palm, a graduate intern from the University of New England, is working on a master’s thesis about the direct and indirect competition for food resources among several species of fish. While on NOAA fish survey cruises, she’s collected specimens that span the entire northern Gulf of Mexico and has initiated a study of their dietary habits through dissection and stomach content analysis.
Ms. Palm also is assisting with educational outreach, inviting students from nearby Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) to assist with her dissections, speaking at their marine science class, and serving as an expert on a NOAA research cruise which students sailed on as a field trip.
“Brittany was able to teach them how to identify a fish by counting its fins or looking for specific spots. It was an exceptional learning opportunity that could never have been duplicated in a traditional classroom-lecture format,” said Janice Cooley, MGCCC Biology Instructor. “She’s also taught in my classroom and hits the material on all levels and learning styles. She’s just phenomenal and an enthusiastic role model for students considering a career in this field.”
IAP’s co-op students also have put together projects on coastal pollution for environmental science classes at a neighboring high school. Brittany says her experiences have convinced her that sharing what she loves through teaching will be woven into her career in marine biology.
“My graduate thesis experiences with IAP and NOAA have been amazing,” adds Brittany. “The field work is intensive, the lab work is challenging, and working with local classrooms has solidified my ambition to remain involved in academia.”
In addition to fishery observation, monitoring and species collection, IAP also supports NOAA with research, remote sensing, computer and data management services, and the development of specialized gear used during at-sea research trips.
IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. is a leading international contractor providing global mission support for commercial industries, The Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies. The company operates in three lines of business: Global Operations and Logistics, Base Operations Support Services, and Professional and Technical Services.
IAP’s corporate headquarters is located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the company employs more than 7,000 people at over 100 locations worldwide. IAP’s website can be accessed at www.iapws.com.