Sophie Spring '16 at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii in June 2016.

Sophie Spring ’16 at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii in June 2016.

Recent graduate Sophie Spring ’16 of Colrain, Mass., just returned from Honolulu, Hawaii where she presented her research on the use of oysters for water quality remediation at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS). Her presentation was an outgrowth of her work as a candidate for the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program while a student here at Stoneleigh-Burnham School (SBS).

Stoneleigh-Burnham is the first and only girls’ school in New England to offer the IB diploma program, which equips students with exemplary critical thinking skills and opens doors for them at universities in the U.S. and abroad.

One of the requirements of the IB is the Extended Essay, a 4,000-word paper in which students investigate a topic of individual interest using independent research and writing skills expected at the collegiate level. Read more about the IB at SBS here.

Spring’s Extended Essay topic was “Bivalves, Barbados and Bioremediation: The use of Crassostrea Gasar, a viable tactic of remediation in Barbados.” Spring presented a conceptual model using oysters to foster coral growth on breakwaters. Poor water quality due to pollution and other factors has negatively impacted coral growth on the breakwaters, but oysters, which naturally filter water, could remediate pollution and foster the growth of coral, which is essential for a healthy ocean ecosystem. Spring did her research for the essay last summer in Barbados.

Spring was encouraged by her mother, a marine biologist and consultant, and Kevin McIntosh, CEO of Baird & Associates, an Ottawa-based coastal engineering firm, to submit her paper to the ICRS. Her abstract was accepted and Spring attended the conference where she presented a poster she created on her topic.

Spring said the many opportunities to practice public speaking and engage with adults in a professional manner at Stoneleigh-Burnham helped her tremendously as she answered questions and gave her the confidence to network at the conference.

Sponsored by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS), the conference was held June 19-24 and brought together 2,500 coral reef scientists, policy makers and managers from 70 different nations in a forum to present the latest research findings, case histories and management activities and to discuss the application of scientific knowledge to achieving coral reef sustainability.

“It was great to be able to articulate myself in a place where almost everyone else presenting was either a PhD or a graduate student,” Spring said. “It’s a plug for the IB program that I was taken seriously because I put in the work to think creatively and think outside the box.”

Spring travels next to work on an oyster farm on Fishers Island, N.Y., for the summer. She plans to attend either Connecticut College or the University of Exeter in the fall to study conservation biology and ecology.

Learn more about the IB and SBS by attending an open house. For more information, click here.