CCU hosts international marine science conference; helps students find jobs

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - People who take care of our coastlines, oceans and rivers will be flooding the area Wednesday. Coastal Carolina University is hosting the Marine Benthic Ecology Meeting, an international marine science conference.  This is the first time CCU is hosting the conference, which is in it's 46th year.

Keith Walters, a Coastal Carolina University marine science professor and the event's coordinator, said marine science researchers from as far away as Norway, Finland and Australia are coming to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to host panels, discuss and share research.  The conference has quite the reputation in the marine science world, and Walters said he couldn't be happier to host it, and give CCU students the opportunity to attend.

However, Walters said out of the 600 people expected to attend, about fifty percent are students from all over.  He said the conference is to encourage student participation and research, as well as provide networking opportunities for careers and continuing education.  Walters said there will be an area with job openings posted at the conference.  Most students who will attend will be presenting research.

"But if a student submits something, we do all that we can to make sure we have a place on the schedule for them to present...and we've been able to do that this year for students who submitted...if it was in any way credible research we accepted their abstracts," Walters said.

Additionally, Walters said over 40 CCU students will be volunteering at the conference. He said because CCU is hosting, this will provide an opportunity to advance the marine science program at the university, as well as show off CCU's new marine science facilities.  A reception and tour of the facilities is on the conference agenda.

"Myrtle Beach? I mean, that's a tourist area.  You say, well, yes it's a tourist area.  But look at all these environments we have that we can work in, look at how easy it is to get to your habitats to work...look at how well all the collaborations work between USC [University of South Carolina] and Coastal Carolina," Walters said.

Many American colleges and universities will be represented at the four-day meeting.  According to the event's press release, presenters and their subjects include Jennifer Pollack, Texas A&M University (oyster reefs); Brittany Blomberg, University of South Alabama (living shorelines); Susan Bell, University of South Florida (mangroves); E. V. Bell, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (salt marshes); Martin Posey, University of North Carolina Wilmington (oyster reefs); and Louise Firth, Plymouth University (hard shorelines).

Many sessions are open to the public.  Specifically related to Myrtle Beach, from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, a panel focused on "Using Marine Science to Reset Damaged Coasts and Communities" with "Success stories of Restoration and Recovery from the Southeast and Gulf Coasts" will happen at the convention center's main ballroom.  Also Thursday,  "Beneath the Waves Film Festival" will be going on in the Wheelwright Auditorium on CCU's campus.  There will be two showings, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8 p.m.  The festival will include marine ecology films and is in it's eighth year.

The conference is going on April 12-15.

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All rights reserved.