Emily Persico

Mentor: Dr. Christine Angelini
College of Engineering
 
"After months of searching for environmental science related experience early last summer, I finally found myself immersed in the world of plant ecology in a lab in South Florida. I spent nearly my entire summer wading around in the Everglades, gaining insight onto both how and why research was conducted. When I arrived back in Gainesville in Fall 2014, I knew I wanted to continue learning more about wetlands, and research in the Angelini lab turned out to be the perfect way to do this."

Major

Environmental Science

Minor

International Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Research Interests

  • Wetland Ecology
  • Soil and Water Quality
  • Sustainable Development

Academic Awards

  • CALS Dean's List 2015
  • University Scholars 2015
  • Bright Futures 2012

Organizations

  • Wetlands Club

Volunteer

  • Sustainability Hut
  • Elementary School Outreach
  • Creek Cleanup

Hobbies and Interests

  • Running
  • Traveling
  • Yoga
  • Baking and eating desserts

Research Description

Hog Disturbance in Salt Marshes of the Southeastern United States
Salt marshes are important carbon sinks, helping mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering 44.6 Tg of carbon each year. Invasive feral hogs use these salt marshes in search of food, creating networks of trails and large, mushy dead areas. The hogs turn over the soil, exposing dead roots to the air and potentially speeding up the process of decomposition. With the help of graduate student Sean Sharp and our faculty adviser, Christine Angelini, my project is using litter bags to determine rates of decomposition in a healthy marsh versus hog-disturbed areas. Over the course of the summer, I have deployed a total of 160 litter bags in healthy and hog-disturbed marshes. By the end of September, I will have extracted each one and determined the rate of decomposition that took place over the summer. This information will be significant in determining the potential for recovery of these dead areas. It will also tell us how much carbon is being released into the atmosphere as a result of these hog disturbances.