From Savannah to diving in head first

I AM SAVANNAH SMART

From Savannah to diving in head first

Why wade when you can dive deep? When it came time for Kelli Edwards ’12 to complete her master’s degree, she wanted two things: a historically black college or university (HBCU) and a graduate program where she could work closely with people who knew her. At Savannah State, she found both—and jumped in.

“My professors took time to get to know me and to fight for my success. They wanted to figure out how to help this girl from Chicago who had a passion for dolphins.”

Edwards’ professors helped her find her specialty and complete her Master of Science degree in marine sciences. She took advantage of SSU’s access to 40 percent of the east coast’s salt marshes to research the effects of bacteria in dolphins. “If I wanted to do an observation, all I had to do was walk out on the dock.”

“Water is so important. It’s everywhere. And this work—researching dolphin health—can tell us what’s going on with the world and the environment” – Kelli Edwards ’12

At SSU, Edwards also served as a National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow, introducing local students to marine science. She’s been spreading ocean knowledge ever since as Assistant Manager of Education Programs at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. “I get to inspire the young, innovative marine scientists of tomorrow.”

Edwards might just inspire the scientists who’ll continue the research she started at SSU. Already, students are building on her dolphin research by designing better ways to extract and understand bacteria.

SSU’s next Tiger scientists may even conduct research in the University’s new 17,000-square-foot marine sciences lab. The facility, which has deep-water access, will house dedicated labs for everything from dolphin surveys and fish ecology to environmental toxicology and coastal biophysics. Paired with Savannah State’s fleet of research vessels, this hub will allow SSU students and faculty to dive even deeper into research.

Edwards plans to open an interactive community center to get underrepresented minorities fired up about aquatic education through activities like swimming, canoeing, diving, and fishing. “I want to get people excited. If I can get them learning without even realizing it—while having fun—I’ve done my job.” Seriously Impressive.


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