On Saturday, February 23, Hannah Merges presented at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in Washington D.C. Her poster, entitled “Prevalence of Vibrio vulnificus in Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and Seawater of the Maryland Coastal Bays,” was presented within the Ecology, Environmental, and Earth Science session and featured research she conducted over the summer of 2018 as an intern with the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Maryland Eastern Shores. Under the mentorship of Dr. Salina Parveen, Hannah investigated how prevalent a type of bacterium was in the hemolymph and meat of blue crabs.
Hannah’s abstract states that “V. vulnificus can pose serious health threats to humans if contaminated raw or undercooked blue crabs are consumed and/or when humans swim or wade in waters where this bacterium is prevalent.” Hannah collected seawater and blue crabs in the Maryland Coastal Bays region and analyzed the samples looking for the presence of the two types of the V. vulnificus bacterium, vvhA and the pathogenic vcgC. It is important to understand the prevalence of this bacterium, particularly the pathogenic variety, and how changing water and temperature conditions, with climate change and other human influences, may affect them.
Hannah is an Environmental Studies major with an interest in continuing on in the field of Oceanography.