An interview with summer intern Taylor Dishon

Following is an interview with Taylor Dishon, a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marine science at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. A summer intern in Dr. Lorenzo Rossi’s Plant Root Biology Laboratory, Taylor imparts her experience as an intern at the University of Florida/IFAS-Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) in Fort Pierce and how the opportunity advances her career aspirations.

Question: How did you discover the University of Florida/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center (IRREC) and secure your summer internship?

Response: To find an opportunity aligned with my education, I reached out to local environmental companies and the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center. Researchers at the center research food production with practices that protect the environment. Dr. Rossi contacted me and offered me an opportunity to work in sustainable agriculture in his lab. Researchers at IRREC seek ways for growers to protect the environment, its natural resources, and healthful food production practices. In the Rossi Plant Root Biology Laboratory, I work with a Ph.D. student, Lukas Hallman, and a Postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Guilherme Locatelli.

Question: What has your experience been like in the laboratory?

Response: I feel welcomed. Everyone in the lab is polite and friendly. What strikes me the most is my major in marine science, and the Plant Root Biology Laboratory scientists understand its relevance to horticultural research. Agricultural research is related to marine science because the more sustainable agricultural production is, the healthier our oceans will be.

Scientific methods and data collection are the same for every scientific discipline. Data collection, quantification, and analyses are valuable skills I need. The experience I am gaining here is ideal for my career goals. I am seeing the process from its beginning and will begin to learn data input and quantification.

Before this opportunity, I had not planned to pursue a master’s degree, but now I have changed my mind. I am looking at the possibility of a master’s degree in the aquaculture program here at IRREC, which is an important facet of marine science.

Question: Please tell us about your day with the researchers. How does your day begin, and what tasks do you carry out?

Response: Nearly every morning, we leave the center and head to citrus groves. We collect leaf samples and data measurements in the groves and return to the center at about 2 in the afternoon. We take tree height and canopy measurements from North to South and then East to West. We also measure the tree trunks. Soon we will begin root density measurements. Dr. Rossi directs research for sustainable agriculture and environmental protection. It is to that goal that the researchers plan their research.


Question: You said you want to be a marine scientist; where are you with that right now, and where do you want to go with that goal?

Response: I have a semester left for my bachelor’s degree. I would love to work with conservation of the ocean floor. Humans do a lot that can be changed to protect the oceans and the environment better. Researchers at UF/IFAS-IRREC are doing what they can to help growers do their part to preserve the land, and everything that happens on the land impacts the oceans.

Question: What are the most pressing issues with marine science and the oceans?

Response: Marine pollutants. And we are losing many species to human actions. Microplastics are a major concern because they impact marine life, affecting humans. After all, we consume the fish that eat microplastics.

We must understand that anything spilled or applied on land eventually runs off and into the oceans. Oil and gasoline all find their way into our water bodies. Chemicals used on land flow into rainfall, and rain flows into rivers, bays, and oceans.

But the most important issue is that we can all do something to prevent pollutants from flowing into our oceans by using fewer chemicals and conserving water—a second issue is a wastewater. Wastewater needs to be managed innovatively so that it doesn’t flow untreated into our natural water bodies.


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Posted: July 25, 2022


Category: Professional Development, UF/IFAS Research, , Welcome



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