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Award Winner Q & A - Kyle Newton

Q. What award did you receive and when?

2015 Research Award

Q. What degree are you seeking, from what institution, under whose guidance?

Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, Steve Kajiura

Q. What is the most important (actual or potential) finding of your research?  Give us a little background on the subject.

Stingrays can detect changes in geomagnetic field strength and inclination angle (e.g. the angle of the field with respect to the surface of the Earth).  These magnetic cues change predictably with latitude across the planet so it’s possible that elasmobranchs can use them the derive a sense of location or direction during short and long range movements.

Q. How is the award going to help you complete the project?

Stingray food is a recurring expense. I also needed to construct an electromagnet array and purchase power supplies.

Q. What are your other research goals?

I want to understand what sensory cues elasmobranchs use to orient and navigate between foraging, feeding, and parturition habitats. Also I want to fully describe the magnetic sense on sharks and rays: exactly what magnetic cues can they detect, do they really use the geomagnetic field to orient and navigate, what peripheral and central nervous system structures are involved, and how do these structures operate under magnetic stimulation?

Q. How did you get started in research/shark bio/science?

The original influence was a tropical field biology course in Bimini, taught by John Morrissey, while I was an undergrad at UMiami.  Later I worked on a visceral endothermy project in mako sharks for my MS in Kathy Dickson’s lab at Cal State Fullerton.