Capturing a Coastal Threat: Photographic Exploration of Invasive Beach Vitex
Megan Heuse ‘09, Karissa Terry ’09, and Cristin Fedina ‘09
Faculty Sponsors: Dr. Doug Jensen and Prof. Andrew Blanchard
Biology student Karissa Terry and art students Cristin Fedina and Megan Heuse collaborated on an interdisciplinary research project involving the invasive plant species vitex rotundifolio, more commonly known as beach vitex. The project focused on the invasive qualities of beach vitex, as well as its ecological impact on native species of plants and animals such as the native plant Uniola (sea-oat) and the nest sites of Loggerhead sea turtles.
The team conducted field observations and collected specimens at Hobcaw Barony, a 17,500-acre research reserve near Georgetown. The three students worked closely with their faculty mentors and Clemson University’s Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, the Beach Vitex Task Force, and the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE).
The team presented their research at a conference in February 2010. In April, the Milliken Art Gallery exhibited the work of Cristin Fedina and Megan Heuse, titled, “Capturing A Coastal Threat: Photographic Works on the Invasive Plant Beach Vitex.” The exhibit featured high quality images of scanned field specimens and large-scale photographic works that artfully combined scientific archival methods with environmental photography. These works were then donated to Converse to further promote public awareness and foster environmental stewardship.