From childhood summers helping diamondback terrapins safely nest on the Jersey Shore to conducting research on the gopher tortoise population at St. Petersburg’s Boyd Hill Nature Preserve with Assistant Professor of Biology Jeff Goessling, Ph.D., turtle appreciation has been Celina’s guiding light.
“Sea turtles, in particular, are just amazing organisms with supercool migratory patterns and nesting habits,” said the senior marine science student, Delaware native and current Vero Beach, Florida, resident.
After graduation, Celina will travel to Guanaja, Honduras, a bay island near Roatán, to study sea turtles by satellite tracking of postnesting females, validating Nesting Safe technology and nest monitoring, and determining the impacts of sand temperature on hatchling running speed for ProTECTOR Inc., a nonprofit research organization headed by Loma Linda University Professor of Biology Stephen G. Dunbar, Ph.D.
Her Fulbright grant covers round-trip transportation to the host country; funding to cover room, board and incidental expenses based on the cost of living in the host country; predeparture and/or in-country orientations; book and research allowances; midterm enrichment activities; and language study programs.
“I got the email during my creative nonfiction class with [Associate Professor of Creative Writing] K.C. Wolfe, and during a break I raised my hand and told everyone the good news,” Celina recalled. “Everyone clapped for me, and it felt good to feel so supported by my peers.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in the United States Congress that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.” More than 400,000 Fulbrighters from the United States and other countries have participated in the Program since its inception in 1946. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries around the globe.