Marine science postdoc lands major URI award

Anabela Maia a former post doc with Dr. Cheryl Wilga, director of the CELS Biological Science Graduate Program, has been awarded the 2012 URI Excellence in Doctoral Research Award for the STEM area.

The award is one of two given by the URI Graduate School, the other being for a non-STEM discipline.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The award is worth $1,000.

Maia whose work on researching the functions of shark fins resulted in a feature video on the Discovery Channel, has worked extensively with the children in the Paul Cuffee Charter School in Providence, a school that has a marine theme.

“Anabela,” writes Wilga, “is one of the rising young scientists in the field. Her research answered some long standing questions on the movement patterns and function of the dorsal fins in sharks. There is much speculation about the function of the dorsal fins of sharks. Anabela found that the first dorsal fin of the pelagic species functions as a stabilizer (like the keel of a boat),

while the second dorsal fin functions as a thruster (like the propeller). In contrast, both of the dorsal fins of the benthic species function as thrusters.

“ Anabela has received significant grant and fellowship funding and mentored several undergraduates who will be co-authors on papers,” continues Wilga. ”Anabela truly believes in the importance of teaching, mentoring and outreach and she has an impressive record of these activities.”

Dr. Anne I Veeger, CELS associate dean for academic affairs, wrote to Anabela “What a wonderful testament to the caliber of your graduate research. We look forward to hearing about your continued success.”

Since last October, Maia has been a post doc at Ghent University in Belgium working on seahorse biomechanics. She will have another post doc position at Tufts University starting in the fall.