#SciFund Rd 3 with Ben Titus http://rkthb.co/11919

#Scifund Round 3 is underway and each day I will highlight a new proposal from the Challenge to give you a more in-depth understanding of each participant and their research.
Today I present Ben Titus. His research looks to analyze the genetics of distant shrimp and sea anemone populations.
Tell us about yourself, where you are from, and where you see yourself going.
I am a first year PhD student at Ohio State studying the co-evolution and population genetics of Caribbean sea anemones and their shrimp symbionts. I’m originally from Bowling Green, OH and I completed my BSc from Otterbein University and my MSc from Auburn University. My long-term career goal is to land a faculty position and continue my research.
How did you get involved in your research project?

I got involved studying coral reefs as an undergrad, and that ultimately helped me get into a Master’s program at Auburn University. At AU my adviser studied sea anemone ecology in the Caribbean and Red Sea. After a lot of field work I realized the questions I was most interested in could be answered with molecular techniques. That led me to my current adviser Meg Daly at Ohio State where I have blended parts of my Master’s research into a new research direction.

Why is your research important to you? Why should others fund it?

Coral reefs are some of the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet and are some of the most diverse as well. Most of the biodiversity on reefs are small poorly understood invertebrates that may play an important role in ecosystem function. The sea anemones and shrimps I study act as cleaning stations for reef fish, and are vital for keeping them healthy. Funding my project will continue to shed light on this poorly understood symbiosis!

Do you have a favorite story that came from working on your research project?

One of the shrimps I study is a red snapping shrimp that defends its anemone host from predators. When collecting data on these animals you tend to poke around with your pencil to see how many shrimp are hosting with the anemone. After one dive where the snapping shrimp snapped the lead of my pencil I quickly learned I needed to bring mechanical pencils with me underwater.

Why did you decide to particpate in the SciFund Challenge?

I’ve always enjoyed communicating my research to a public audience and this provided a forum to do so PLUS raise research money for collecting trips. It was a no brainer.

What was the most difficult aspect of building your SciFund Proposal? What was your favorite?

I’ve become so used to scientific writing and using all the jargon that comes along with it. Writing something for the general public, still communicating what you plan to do, while not dumbing it down too much and insulting everyone’s intelligence was the hardest.

It was also my favorite part because now I feel like I have solidified my thought process to a point to where I can communicate with anyone

Tell us something random. Something funny. Something borrowed. Something blue.

I’m a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person watching them throw a baseball…

Thanks Ben for sharing your science! And to save you time from scrolling up, you can read about his project and contribute here.