Thanks for your support in the 2011 blogging scholarship!

Thank you all for your support in the 2011 blogging scholarship! It really means a lot that so many of you voted for me and encouraged your friends and followers to do the same. All told, over two hundred of my Twitter followers Tweeted or re-Tweeted messages about the contest, many of them every day (I’ll have a special “Follow Friday” for you all after I return from New Zealand). Many science and shark blogs wrote posts supporting me, including PZ Myers, Greg Laden, RTSea, SeaMonster, Mike Da Shark, Patric at Underwater Thrills, Madhu at Reconciliation Ecology, Kevin and Deep Sea News, Oceanic Dreams, the Dorsal Fin, Maggie at Boing-Boing, and Christie at Science Sushi.

Over a dozen conservation organizations including the Ocean Conservacy, Oceana, Shark Savers, Greenpeace, the Blue Planet Society, the Shark Research Institute, and Shark Defenders encouraged their members to vote for me. The University of Miami Grad Student Association and Office of Student Affairs e-mailed the entire UM undergraduate and graduate student body on my behalf. Almost 100 of my Facebook friends, included friends from high school, college, and professional conferences shared the link as well. My family and my girlfriend’s family shared the voting page with all their contacts. Andrew the Southern Fried Scientist went on a series of Tweeting marathons encouraging people to vote for me, and also posted the embarrassing pictures of me every day that I was leading.   If I’ve forgotten anyone I sincerely apologize, but in short, there’s been a lot of support and it means a lot.

As I’m writing this, I have no idea whatsoever if I won or not. I’ve been in the lead throughout, but in the last couple of days, the contest has tightened up a lot. When the winner is announced, I’ll be taking a final exam, and I’m headed directly from my final exam to the airport as I head to New Zealand for the Society for Conservation Biology conference. Whether I won or lost, however, I really want to thank everyone for their support.

If I won, you’ll be hearing from me soon about naming our new satellite-tagged shark. If I lost, congratulations to the winner, and there will be plenty other opportunities to support shark conservation and research. Unlike some of the other candidates, my ability to remain in school is not influenced by whether or not I win this scholarship- the money would have helped my research a great deal, but the research will take place regardless. Whether I won or lost, I’m really grateful for everyone’s support. Thank you all.

Vote for me in the blogging scholarship and support our shark conservation research!

Yesterday, I asked for your support and vote in the 2011 Blogging Scholarship. Since that time, over 7,000 of you have voted for me, and as of this writing, I am in the lead! Thanks for your help and encouragement. Andrew announced earlier today that for every day I’m in the lead, he’ll post an embarrassing picture of me. For many of you, that’s incentive enough to vote for me. However, I also want to tell you what I would use the $10,000 scholarship for if I won.

In addition to boring stuff like tuition, supplies, and travel support, for my own dissertation (assessing the ecological importance of sharks to coral reefs) , I will use the money to support our lab’s ongoing shark conservation research. My lab, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami, has many shark research projects taking place. Yesterday, some of that research was used by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as background in their decision to make hammerheads (great, smooth, and scalloped) and tiger sharks protected species in Florida waters- a proud moment for us and for the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, which we are affiliated with.

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