From pediatric oncology to ballet company administration, the topics of the 2017 Research Showcase held in January at The Ford Center at The Star were diverse and unique. Hundreds of junior and high school students shared their initial research into their chosen fields of study with the local community. The Dallas Cowboys’ new practice facility made the perfect location for this event which is part of the Frisco Independent School District’s Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) Program. ISM is a rigorous, challenging, and rewarding course offered for academically gifted and high-achieving junior and senior students at Frisco ISD high schools. During this course, the students research careers and specific topics related to their chosen fields of study and develop an Original Work, an authentic piece of work represents what they are passionate about in their respective fields.
One of the largest groups of people at this Showcase were huddled around Alexandria Hahn’s booth. Alexandria was one of only two students presenting research on the marine biology field. Alexandria has been consulting with her mentor Amy Whitt (Azura CEO) on several topics related to marine mammal conservation and management. Her Showcase presentation included background information on human impacts to marine species and highlighted the disastrous impacts that fishing gear has had on two endangered marine mammal species, the North Atlantic right whale and the vaquita.
The vaquita is the main focus of Alexandria’s independent study project. This small porpoise lives in the northern Gulf of California in Baja California, Mexico and is considered to be the most endangered species of marine mammal in the world. Less than 50 vaquita are left because they are killed in illegal gillnets set for fish and shrimp. Alexandria’s final ISM product will be the result of her extensive research into the ecology and conservation management of the vaquita. This product will help to engage the general public in marine mammal conservation by drawing them in to the life and peril of this endangered porpoise. It will also serve as an important piece of work for the marine biology scientific community because it will involve the compilation and summary of extensive information and data on this species.
At this Showcase, Alexandria did a “fin-tastic” job explaining how fishing nets are affecting North Atlantic right whales, the vaquita, and other marine species across the globe. She was both engaging and knowledgeable. We are so proud of her!
Follow Alexandria’s journey here.