WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – On July 27, the University of North Carolina Wilmington announced that Allie Best, graduate student and former UNCW basketball captain, had been chosen to receive the 2022 North Carolina Space Grant and North Carolina Sea Grant. Only awarded to two researchers, the joint fellowship supports work that seeks to conserve and protect the state’s coastline utilizing data and technology from NASA and NOAA.
Per their release, Best will receive $10,000 to support her study of the habitat and availability of the Coastal Plain Swamp Sparrow, a palm-sized bird that lives among the brackish marshes of our coast. This species’ habitat is gradually disappearing due to rising sea levels, and Best’s research will help ensure that Swamp Sparrows can continue to thrive in NC.
“In the grand scheme of things, their survival is at stake. They use the high marsh habitat and as that habitat shrinks, they might not be able to adapt,” said Best. “It’s important to look at areas these birds may use in the future, so I will be analyzing data and building models using satellite imagery to make habitat management and conservation recommendations.”
Best will begin her work this fall when the birds return to North Carolina, the university stated in their release. During that time, she also plans on extending educational outreach programs in the Wilmington area, through programs such as UNCW MarineQuest, Young Science Academy, and Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc.
“It’s important to mentor individuals in areas they find interesting to foster their love of wildlife and to encourage them to try new things,” said Best. “I was so excited when I was younger when I could learn from others, and I’m really happy I will be able to do that now.”
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