College:College of Sciences
Degree Program:Integrative and Conservation Biology PhD, Conservation Biology Track
Research Focus:Marine ecology
Throughout his life, Christopher Crowder has been fascinated by how animals are influenced by the world around them. His captivation with ecology and animal behavior led him to discover his passion for fish and marine ecology, which has shaped his academic journey. “I am passionate about this field because I can work with some beautiful animals in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and answer some real-world questions that can have a direct benefit to society in the future,” he says.
While completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Tampa, the Indiana native developed an appreciation for the local environment and came to recognize the importance of oyster reefs, mangrove forests, and coral reefs. He knew that this was the field of study he wanted to pursue. Crowder then moved back to Indiana, where he completed his master’s degree at Ball State University while conducting research on fish embryos and their predators. Now, at UCF, he gets to combine his love for ecology, biostatistics, and animals in an applied way.
Currently, Crowder is conducting research with Dr. Geoffrey Cook in the Marine Ecology and Conservation Lab in the Department of Biology while working towards his PhD in Integrative and Conservation Biology – Conservation Track. His research is focused on the relationship between sportfish and forage fish, which both play an important role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. However, climate change and human activities can threaten these species and have detrimental effects on fish communities. Crowder is collaborating with developers of a social media platform that allows recreational anglers, who have a significant impact on the management of fish, to report and share their catches with other recreational anglers for scientific purposes. He aims to gain a better understanding of the people using Florida’s fishery for recreation in order to predict sportfish populations in the future.
Crowder praises the faculty at UCF for helping him achieve his goals. He describes how Dr. Cook has been a great mentor and guide in helping him develop his research project. He also acknowledges Drs. David Jenkins and Pedro Quintana-Ascencio for providing him with a new way to think about data and statistics in biology, and Dr. Kristy Lewis for teaching him the importance of Geographic Information Systems in ecology. He advises other students to establish relationships with faculty at the university and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available.
Furthermore, Crowder commends the wide range of resources provided by the university and the tight-knit community within the biology department. He describes how getting involved on campus has impacted his university experience. “I really appreciate the Biology Graduate Student Association for helping new students adjust to the department and providing several activities to get students connected to other biology graduate students,” he says. Crowder also serves on the College of Graduate Studies Graduate Student Advisory Council while mentoring undergraduate students in his research lab and teaching the undergraduate ecology lab.
Through his work at UCF, Crowder is gaining the real-world, practical experience he needs to prepare him for a career in science. He aims to work with an organization that focuses on fish and wildlife research and management after graduating in 2025.
- Member of College of Graduate Studies first Graduate Student Advisory Council
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