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Partners in STEM Success

April 19, 2010

One group of Ventura College STEM students image a coral specimen...

... while the second group eagerly await their turn!

Beginning in March, a group of Ventura College students were invited to participate in a research study involving Ventura College, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) faculty, and Coastal Marine Biolabs (CMB).

The study seeks to enrich the scientific understanding of both the genetic and habitat diversity of a Pacific coast coral, Stylaster californicus.

In support of this study, Ventura College students use Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to image the surface features of coral specimens. This state-of-the-art instrument, which is housed and maintained on the Ventura College campus, provides high-resolution images of the coral surface which will be scrutinized to determine the physical characteristics of the coral’s feeding and defensive structures (gastropores and dactylopores).

It is thought that the numerical analysis of these structures, when combined with genetic studies of distant (and presumably different) populations, will help in understanding and protecting these beautiful creatures in California’s waters.

In addition to presenting their results to an audience of Ventura College, UCSB, and CMB faculty and staff, the students participating in this study will reach a global audience by submitting their analysis for publication. So, if you think you’d like to make a contribution to the world, consider a STEM major.

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