WASHINGTON, PA (Feb. 10, 2017) — Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) senior Juliet Duball has loved the ocean since she was a child. She couldn’t wait for family vacations to the beach where she could leave, if for just a little, her landlocked home in Washington, Pa., and learn about the ocean.
Fond memories and a continued fascination with the vast mystery that covers more than 70 percent of the planet finally led Juliet to the ultimate opportunity for self-exploration through the Magellan Project.
Channeling her interest into a prominent issue facing the world ecosystem today, Juliet researched coral rehabilitation in the Florida Keys. She learned that coral reefs have been decreasing since the early 1980s, and by completing a Magellan, she hoped to find out more about the natural and human causes behind coral deterioration as well as what can be done to save them.
Upon arriving, Juliet set out to earn her scuba certification to conduct individual research through snorkeling and scuba diving the local reefs throughout the Keys. She also volunteered with the Coral Restoration Foundation, an organization in Key Largo, Florida, working to educate the community, protect and restore coral reefs throughout the region, and advance scientific research and monitoring techniques.
Above and below the surface, Juliet saw the ocean filled with dead coral that had broken off from the reef. As she assisted Coral Restoration Foundation staff and interns on their current projects, she further learned about the different types of coral nurseries the Foundation is using to grow coral fragments to plant on the local reefs.
“My focus was to learn more about the destruction of the coral reefs and the efforts of coral rehabilitation to try to regrow them,” said Juliet. “I was unaware of how damaging the human population has been on coral reefs. A piece of coral can die just by having someone touch it. There are several companies who charter boating trips to local reefs daily and tourists who enjoy diving down and touching the reef. This is a prominent problem, and unless warned of the damage the may cause, they go about their ways unaware.”
Aside from human interaction, she learned that white band disease, cold events, sea urchin die off, coral bleaching, white pox disease, and degraded water quality can all affect the deterioration of coral reefs.
At W&J, Juliet double majors in psychology and communication arts. The beauty of the Magellan Program is that it allowed her to explore her fascination with a subject she had never known much about, and it has propelled her to continue exploring these passions.
“I plan to apply for the fulltime internship so I am able to continue working with the Coral Restoration Foundation next summer,” Juliet said. “Then after that, [I plan to] begin my masters at a school hopefully near the beach so I can find other places to volunteer and learn more about the ocean in my free time.”
About the Magellan Project
Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.