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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland, Julie Meyer was always around water.

This influenced the 39-year-old to explore marine science, and now the UF postdoctoral scientist is a L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship winner, wrote L’Oréal USA’s Director of External Communications Emily Stephens in an email. Meyer is one of five women in the country receiving a $60,000 grant to apply to her research.

Meyer said she applied for the fellowship in March and was surprised when she found out she won in August.

"There are a lot of applicants to the program, and it’s always very competitive, so I was a little bit surprised but definitely honored," she said.

The grant will go toward her research on the interactions of bacteria on the surface of coral and how the bacteria affects the coral’s health, she said. It will also help fund a short documentary that will feature women in coral reef research throughout Florida.

Meyer said she hopes to inspire young women to get into science with the video.

"I knew when I was in middle school that I wanted to be a scientist, but most students don’t know what they want to do at that age," she said. "I think exposing middle school or high school girls to careers in science, whether it’s marine biology or not, is important."

Valerie Paul, the director of the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce, Florida, said she has been studying coral diseases with Meyer for years.

"Working with Julie’s great," she said. "She’s really skilled and very talented and gets the job done."

Paul said she believes Meyer was chosen for the fellowship because she’s tackling important problems, such as how to eliminate black band disease, which is caused by bacteria that kill many species of coral around the world.

Lauren Paige, the vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at L’Oréal USA, wrote in an email Meyer’s commitment to mentoring young women scientists is impressive.

"Science depends on female scientists like Julie to be a role model for girls looking to enter scientific fields," she said.

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Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

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