GSU to host marine biology conference and film festival

Sarah Ryniker

Georgia Southern University faculty members of the department of biology will host the 42nd Benthic Ecology Meeting, one of the largest marine biology conferences, in Savannah from March 20-23.

This is the first time GSU has hosted this event, arranged by GSU’s Dr. Daniel Gleason, Dr. Alan Harvey and Dr. Risa Cohen, and will include a film festival featuring 15 marine and conservation films, according to the news release.

The conference is expected to attract more than 600 marine biologists from around the world.

“This is a great experience for Georgia Southern and for the students here. There will be researchers from all three coasts, as well as from fourteen countries. Australia, France and Brazil are just a few. This is great exposure,” Gleason, president of the Benthic Ecology Meeting Society, said.

More than two-thirds of the 500 presentations planned for the three-day conference will be from graduate students, according to the news release.

“(The conference) is very student-friendly. There are many opportunities for students to meet other researchers,” Gleason said. “I’m hoping that a lot of collaborations come from this.”

The Beneath the Waves Film Festival on March 21 will display a variety of marine films, which will be available online after the convention. The festival aims to reach a wide audience, communicating marine research and conservation stories.

According to the GSU website, this event has only been held in Georgia one other time by Georgia Institute of Technology.

“We try to alternate between North and South coastlines to make the conference more accessible,” Gleason said.

“Benthic organisms are those that live on, or in association with, the seabed and include such things as sponges, corals, oysters and shrimp,” Gleason said in a news release. “They basically live on the bottom of the ocean and play an important part in all aspects of ocean health and function.”