2011-2012 PERFECT/GK12 Fellows

Jennifer A. Elliott

Ph.D. Student

Email: jaelliott@vims.edu
Phone: (804) 684-7146
Office: Andrews Hall, 235B
Department of interest: Biological Sciences

Biography
Advisor: Dr Mark Patterson

Previous Degrees

  • B. Sc. (Hons.) in Biology and Environmental Sciences – University of Mauritius, Mauritius
  • M. Sc. In Applied Ecology and Conservation – University of East Anglia, United Kingdom

I am a biologist from the tropical Island of Mauritius, which is located in the South Eastern Indian Ocean. My interests to study nature started as a teenager. I read about the work being done by a local non-profit organization to save the golden bats, the pink pigeons and the native plants from extinction. I was so fascinated by their work that I decided to volunteer for them. This allowed me to work on projects involving native animals and plants that are unique to my island. And most importantly, I was able to help the scientists in their important task of restoring these endangered species. The scientists I met highly inspired me by the passion and devotion that they put in their work. This prompted me to take an undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Mauritius to become a biologist. For my thesis, I worked on a forest restoration project in collaboration with the same local non-profit organization, looking at the impacts of invasive species on the regeneration of native forests.

Immediately after my degree, I was hired by the non-profit organization and I spent a few years working on forest restoration projects. During my time there, I won a British Chevening Scholarship that allowed me to do a Masters degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. In 2005, an opportunity came up to work for a marine conservation non-profit organization and I decided to take up this new challenge. My main tasks were to place buoys around the island to reduce anchor damage, carry out coral monitoring and also to do environmental education. Through this job, I became aware of all the threats to the coral reefs and how urgent it is to protect them. I decided to pursue a doctoral degree at VIMS to fine tune my skills as a scientist and to gain more knowledge and experience that will enable me to better protect the corals reefs of my island. The focus of my dissertation is on the resilience of the coral reefs to anthropogenic (human-related) impacts in Mauritius.

The NSF GK-12 fellowship is a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with the local middle school students and share my passion as a scientist working in the tropics. My goal is to make science a fun subject for the students and hopefully create greater interests for scientific subjects.