The Space Coast Women In Defense (SCWID) recently awarded Ph.D. student Ann Wassick one of its 2019 STEM Scholarship awards.
The scholarship was established to encourage women in Brevard County, Florida, to pursue careers related to the national security and defense interests of the United States as it relates to STEM.
Wassick plans to use her scholarship to buy supplies for her research on biofouling.
“Biofouling is an important topic because it has many economic and ecological impacts, but not many people outside of the field know a lot about it,” Wassick says. “It can be a source of problems for any marine industry, from aquaculture to shipping. Ship biofouling is a major vector for invasive species worldwide and causes increases in greenhouse gas emissions. While at the same time, biofouling has many benefits to marine ecosystems and water quality.”
Research in biofouling is helping to mitigate the use of toxic boat paints. Wassick’s work will help develop more environmentally friendly boat hull coatings that prevent the accumulation of marine organisms.
“One of the big projects in our lab is the development of ship hull grooming, which is the proactive, gentle cleaning of ship hulls by an autonomous robot to prevent the growth of fouling,” Wassick says. “My research is focused on creating a biofouling risk model that can be used to help plan when ships and other surfaces are treated or cleaned.”