Cheyney Sophomore Samih Taylor Presents Colonization Research in Granada, Spain

March 20, 2015

Cheyney sophomore Samih Taylor takes in the scenery in the mountain Ranges of Granada, Spain

Cheyney sophomore Samih Taylor takes in the scenery in the mountain Ranges of Granada, Spain

This school year has been a whirlwind for Samih Taylor. The 20-year-old double major in Ecology and Marine Biology has spent much of it in Spain. 

"Over the Summer I worked on a collaboration project with Sea Education Association (SEA) and the Marine Biological Laboratory under Dr. Eric Zettler," she explained.

As part of Zettler's Plastisphere Research team, she helped put together an abstract on their work regarding the composition and impact of microbial communities growing on plastic marine debris, as well as how invertebrate colonizers of these fragments might influence marine ecosystems. The paid internship stemmed from work that she did earlier in the summer as part of another paid internship in Woods Hole, MA, the mecca of science laboratories.

“I worked on plasticology from May to August. Basically, we found different pathogens and microbes that are in areas they've never been found in before and that's because these microbes are using the plastic pollution that people are putting into the ocean as transportation to get to new places--almost like their mode of transportation.”

She did such a great job, Zettler and his colleague let her continue on with them overseas, collecting much-needed samples from throughout the Mediterranean and Northeastern Atlantic Oceans all of last semester. The army brat who spent most of her life moving every one to three years, enjoyed every second of her time abroad.

She spent time in four Spanish provinces: Barcelona, Cadiz, Mallorca, and Gran Canaria, and one in Portugal: Madeira. She was even able to attend lectures at five different universities, and take classes under the Wood Hole scientist traveling with her. Taylor's hard work did not go unnoticed. When her internship ended in December, she was invited back to Spain for a week in late February to present her research at the prestigious annual Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Conference in Granada, Spain.

“It was an amazing opportunity for me,” she exclaimed, “one of those awe inspiring and joy inducing experiences in one’s lifetime. I presented twice to some very curious people who wanted to know more about how I contributed to two of the leading experts in plastic debris.”

“Samih is an excellent student who is highly focused on work in the marine environment," declared Dr. Benjamin Cuker, a Hampton University Professor of Marine & Environmental Science who runs the ASLO Multicultural Program that sponsored Taylor and dozens of other students from across the U.S. "Samih was also able to present her work to scientists in the field. She got the benefit of seeing cutting-edge work presented for the first time by scientists, rather than waiting to read the articles in a journal."

“I am very proud that she presented at such an auspicious meeting,” said Dr. Steven Hughes, who teaches Biology at Cheyney and runs the University’s Aquaculture Research and Education Laboratory. “We sent a student to ASLO last year when it was in Hawaii and I am hoping that this will become an annual occurrence for our students interested in marine science.”

With two more years to go at Cheyney, Taylor is determined to graduate with honors and head to veterinary school. Just before going to Woods Hole last summer, she was competitively selected to participate in the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 2014 Summer VETS Program, an accelerated one week program that included laboratories, lectures and clinic rotations, as well as an assignment at the New Bolton Center.

"I'm definitely going to be a veterinarian," she said. In fact, she is so passionate about animals she gave up meat and has been a strict vegetarian since she was 7 years old. Anyone who knows Samih Taylor knows that she achieves much of what she sets out to do.

"Hard work really does pay off,” she reflected. “And things always work out the way they’re meant to.”