Aspiring scientist studies badlands

PROJECT: Anica Camacho, an incoming sophomore at Academy of Our Lady of Guam, poses in front of her science fair project titled “The Promotion of Secondary Succession of Guam’s Southern Badlands by Evaluating the Allochory Seed Dissemination of Barringtonia asiatica, Bikkia mariannensis, Terminalia catappa, Hibiscus tiliaceus.” Photo courtesy of the Center for Island Sustainability

From June 5 to 28, the University of Guam and Center for Island Sustainability administered a STEM internship by the National Science Foundation.

Along with three other high school interns, Anica Camacho was assigned to Else Demeulenaere, who was assisted by Laura Gombar, an undergraduate student, and Frank Roberto, a graduate student. In addition, the students were mentored by Austin Shelton and Claudia Taitano throughout the program.

The interns were able to explore various parts of Guam’s environment – a portion of the badlands, Piti swamps, the marine biology lab, and the UOG forest. Camacho’s group studied seeds and watersheds, and each student had to complete and present a science project.

Camacho’s project was titled “The Promotion of Secondary Succession of Guam’s Southern Badlands by Evaluating the Allochory Seed Dissemination of Barringtonia asiatica, Bikkia mariannensis, Terminalia catappa, Hibiscus tiliaceus.”

According to the incoming sophomore’s observation, the overall result of her project was that Bikkia mariannensis and Hibiscus tiliaceus have a high chance of surviving the badlands brackish soil for the ultimate result of promoting secondary succession.

Camacho had not only a chance to do research on her project but also the opportunity to understand the importance of restoring Guam’s badlands.

“My experience in this internship consisted of hiking in the forest near UOG to look at the native and endangered species of Guam to going down to Pago Pago to learn about the creatures that roam in the waters,” Camacho said.

Camacho always had a passion for the medical side of science, so she took advantage of the internship to explore the other branches of science. From the monthlong experience, she created a project that can potentially restore Guam’s badlands – an incremental step to maintain the natural beauty of our island.

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