Johnathan Daniel Maxey
Advisor: Iris Anderson
B.S. Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
My research focuses on nitrogen cycling in shallow estuaries, specifically the New River Estuary in North Carolina. I work with a team of researchers, from several academic and government institutions, whose goals are to distinguish the environmental impacts of a city, at the head of the estuary, from those of a military base surrounding the estuary. Because this is a shallow system, I am interested in how benthic microalgal communities (microscopic algae living on the sediment surface) regulate the nitrogen available for phytoplankton (microscopic algae living in the water column), and what physical, biological, and chemical factors affect that regulation. However, having knowledge about the way an ecosystem responds to environmental disturbance is not enough to ensure its proper management, we must also effectively communicate that knowledge.
The National Science Foundation’s Gk-12 program teaches future scientists how to communicate their science to audiences of varying backgrounds. The program has me placed in a 7th grade classroom, where I am challenged to distil my research into understandable units without oversimplifying the material or misinforming students.