Timucuan Parks Foundation and the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve have awarded $1000 and $500 grants, respectively, to two University of North Florida (UNF) students. Victoria Hayes, an undergraduate student of anthropology, and Hunter Mathews, a graduate student and research assistant in the biology department, will be conducting research in the Timucuan Preserve. Each project will be completed within eight months and the results will be presented at the Timucuan Science and History Symposium on January 26, 2024.
Hayes will be conducting topographic mapping and limited excavation of a mounded shell deposit at Cedar Point under the tutelage of Dr. Keith Ashley, associate professor at UNF. Hayes will be investigating the site to increase the understanding of the Indigenous people of northeastern Florida. The results of her archaeological testing will be used to guide future excavations and provide information to the Timucuan Preserve on how best to manage, interpret, and protect the site.
Mathews will be working under the mentorship of UNF Associate Professor Kelly Smith to investigate the use of pervious oyster shell habitat modules, or POSH modules, at Kingsley Plantation. The POSH module, an oyster reef restoration device made from recycled oyster shells, was designed at UNF to rebuild oyster reefs, stabilize shorelines, provide habitat and improve ecosystem health with minimal negative environmental impact. Mathews will assess the POSH’s ability to sustain a healthy oyster population, create a habitat for important fish and crustaceans, and help build sustainable living shorelines.
The student research grant program is funded through sponsorships of the symposium. It introduces students to field research to attract and retain their interest in ecological science, preservation, archaeology, and history of the Timucuan Preserve. The students have an opportunity to share their research results with an audience of research professionals. The program creates partnerships between university faculty, students and NPS, and also provides NPS and the public with a better understanding of the resources within the Timucuan Preserve.