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King University News :: King’s Caleb Corona Awarded Colonel Lee B. Ledford Scholarship by ACA

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 15, 2014 – King University’s own Caleb Corona was recently awarded the Colonel Lee B. Ledford Scholarship by the Appalachian College Association (ACA). The Colonel Lee B. Ledford Student Research Endowment supports summer research experiences for students enrolled at ACA member institutions. Corona will receive $5,927 in grant funding for his summer research project.

Corona is a junior majoring in Biology and Chemistry at King with aspirations of becoming a wildlife biologist. When the opportunity came to submit an application for summer research funding, Corona was eager to apply. “I always had an idea of what I wanted to do after college,” said Corona. “When Dr. Ong told me about the possibility to do summer research and gain more experience in the field in which I am interested, I was on board. As part of the application process, I had to write a proposal on what my research would entail.”

Corona’s research, “Surveying Microbial and Algal Diversity in Freshwater Lakes Using Molecular Phylogeny,” will seek to determine what microbial and algal organisms are living in the aquatic ecosystem contained within a typical freshwater lake in the Appalachian region. Of the $5,972 in grant funding, the monies will be divided between Corona’s stipend, travel, and DNA sequencing.

“Caleb has been able to tie his childhood passion to his major here at King; to gain the academic training necessary to be an outdoorsman serving as a wildlife biologist or conservationist,” said Dr. Han Chuan Ong, associate professor of Biology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at King. “This project will be a mimic of what he will experience later in his career in terms of writing grants, conducting research, and presenting his findings.

“Part of the requirements for the Ledford Scholarship is for Caleb to present his research at the ACA Conference in November in Knoxville, Tenn.,” said Ong. “We anticipate he will also present his research to the Tennessee Academy of Science meeting in Morristown in November, and possibly at NASA’s Astrobiology conference in Galveston, Texas, in Jan. 2015.”

In addition to the Ledford Scholarship, Corona also applied for and received a research grant from Friends of Steele Creek Park in the amount of $1,000. “This funding will be used to purchase a Vernier Water Depth Sampler that will allow us to collect water from a specific depth and give us the opportunity to sample water in a two-dimensional plane, one being the location and the second being the depth where the sample would be collected,” he commented.

Corona added, “We would like to sample at least 25 different locations around the lake at Steele Creek Park; in particular the spill over near the dam, the spot where the creek runs into the lake, and the places in the lake where the water is visibly enhanced by the presence of waterfowls. Each of these locations will provide three samples: surface, mid-level, and deep.”

Corona has known from a young age that he wanted to work with wildlife. “Growing up in rural Tennessee, my father instilled in me, beginning at a very young age, a love of the water and all the organisms that call it home; from the smallest insect to the biggest fish, I was taught to respect it all.” Corona has spent much of his life on the water doing everything from wading riverbanks studying bugs and their life cycles to giving clinics at Steele Creek Park on fly fishing and fly casting.

“This research project will provide me with a real opportunity to gain hands-on experience in my prospective field as well as necessary and important knowledge on field and laboratory techniques I will need to pursue my career,” said Corona.

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