July 25, 2016

MIT Sea Grant Student Explores Eelgrass - Megan Fahey

By Nicole Mis

Megan Fahey is spending her summer out in the field with Carolina Bastidas, a research scientist at the MIT Sea Grant College Program. She applied to work at MIT Sea Grant to gain marine research experience and to learn more about coastal habitats. Megan is a native of Topsfield, MA and is currently studying animal science at the University of Vermont. She has had a lifelong passion for animals and dreams of becoming a vet one day.

Megan is creating marine coastal lab experiments for undergraduate students. Since she started in June, she has been hard at work building bait cages to attract fish, crabs, and other marine organisms. The bait cages will be set up in eelgrass beds alongside a GoPro camera to record what is happening inside eelgrass meadows. The footage will allow students to assess a natural eelgrass meadow. This is part of a new course MIT Sea Grant coastal ecologists’ Carolina Bastidas and Julie Simpson are developing, called Coastal Ecology for Engineers.

The course will examine different coastal habitats including rocky shores, kelp forests, sandy beaches, salt marshes, and eelgrass meadows. Students will be using data from remote sensors to answer open-ended questions about the coastal environment. In a later lab, they will get more hands on experience by being able to directly sample the oceans for a variety of factors including dissolved oxygen and temperature. The course will be taught in the upcoming 2016 fall semester and again during the January session. It will be the only course offered at MIT in marine ecology and engineering. Megan is excited for the opportunity to help develop a marine ecology course for engineers and hopes the course will make students more environmentally conscious.

Outside of class, Megan likes to ski and go horseback riding. She is part of her school’s skiing club and pre-veterinarian club. Megan writes for her school’s newspaper and was recently accepted into UVM’s Honors college program. As part of the program, she will do research on a thesis in her junior year. Megan is looking forward to creating a thesis that will allow her to explore animal science more in depth.