Texas State senior leads research on climate change impact in aquaria
Texas State University SURE ambassador Dominique Ocampo, alongside her mentor Jenn Idema and Dr. Kristy Daniel, recently concluded an extensive project researching climate change messaging in virtual aquarium exhibits.
Ocampo initially wished to conduct a study about global awareness in students who participated in an education abroad program. Due to COVID-19 health guidelines, Ocampo and Daniel instead worked to curate a project that would cater to learning more about the effects of COVID on science education and communication instead. Ocampo and her team worked many hours over the summer to collect data and generate results.
“I would say that I had a huge role in this study,” Ocampo said. “I contributed to collecting data, reading research papers, and writing proposals for future conferences.”
Ocampo contributed more than 40 hours per week to her research project. She credits her mentor, graduate student Jenn Idema, and Daniel for helping guide her through her research process and provide oversight.
Through her research, Ocampo found that out of the 129 exhibits studied, only 7 mentioned climate change or an impact associated with climate change. According to Ocampo, one of the more surprising aspects of her findings was the number of scientific institutions that did not incorporate climate change messaging into virtual exhibits.
“This is not good because it illustrates a lack of socio-scientific information being presented,” Ocampo said. “Given the public’s increasing need for accessing science information online, aquaria may be missing opportunities to educate visitors about climate change in engaging and interactive ways.”
Ocampo’s passion for her work propels her forward in exploring more aquaria and expanding the discussion on her research findings.
“My results emphasize the need for more discussion and incorporation of socio-scientific issues such as climate change into places where the general public goes to learn about science information,” Ocampo said.
“My hopes are that I can continue this research and expand my data bank to create a movement that will support educating the public on climate change,” added Ocampo.