October 23, 2019

Announcing the Vembu Subramanian Ocean Scholarship Winner – Kelsey Johnson-Sapp

SECOORA is proud to announce the winner of the 2019 Vembu Subramanian Ocean Scholar Award, Kelsey Johnson-Sapp from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).

Kelsey Johnson-Sapp
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

“As a steward of the marine environment, I strive to promote the intersection of research and science communication to galvanize public awareness on these issues and champion marine conservation. Support like the Vembu Subramanian Scholarship will provide me with a crucial platform to widely disseminate my findings on coral reef interventions that will further both the field of coral ecology and my mission to inspire meaningful change.”

Kelsey Johnson-Sapp is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Andrew Baker’s Reef Futures Laboratory at UM RSMAS. With a background in marine biology and a master’s degree in environmental management and policy, Kelsey is passionate about integrating the multifaceted components of marine conservation to pioneer original solutions and stoke enthusiasm for ocean science in the public space. Her current research investigates mechanisms behind coral thermal tolerance and leveraging bleaching resilience in natural assemblages to rebuild reefs in a rapidly warming ocean.

The scholarship will support Kelsey’s attendance and participation in the International Coral Reef Symposium, one of the largest coral reef conferences in the world that convenes only once every four years. The July 2020 event will be held in Bremen, Germany, where Kelsey will present her preliminary findings for her project Exploiting Local Variation in Thermal Tolerance to Trial Managed Relocation of Corals to Build Climate Resilience in SE Florida.

Kelsey’s project reimagines the conventional coral restoration framework by identifying and prioritizing thermal-tolerant colonies to propagate and outplant to ensure reef longevity. Her research includes collecting corals from warmer southern sites in the Biscayne Region of Florida and comparing their thermal tolerance with corals from northern cooler sites.

While at ICRS, Kelsey will take the opportunity to expand her network and build collaborations with fellow reef researchers and management experts from all over the globe.