Meet a Marine Biologist - Emma Hickerson


A Challenge for You!

The Flower Garden Banks are teeming with diverse marine species of all sizes, shapes, and colors. We asked you to find your favorites and report back on them in a video to be featured in Emma's webcast!

Here's the challenge: visit the Encyclopedia of the Sanctuary, the Flower Garden Banks Species List page, or the Flower Garden Banks Sanctuary Videos page, find your favorite species, use additional online tools to research your species, and report back what you find in a creative and fun video.

Videos were sent into JASON and were featured during the April 7 live broadcasts. Watch a replay above to see them for yourself!

The groups who submited videos used in the broadcasts will receive a special gift from Emma Hickerson!


About Emma Hickerson and the Flower Garden Banks

Emma Hickerson is the Research Coordinator at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is located about 115 mi (185 km) off the coast of Texas and Louisiana. Over the past 25 years, Emma has led and participated in close to 100 cruises in the Gulf of Mexico region. These cruises have included submersible, remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and SCUBA operations. Emma conducted her Master's thesis project at the sanctuary where she studied the movements of loggerhead sea turtles using radio and satellite technology. Her sanctuary research has focused on mapping, habitat characterization, and the biology of sea turtles,  corals, manta rays, and other marine life. Emma's interests include marine biology and ecology, underwater photography and videography, underwater exploration and technology, and SCUBA diving.

Read an interview with Emma Hickerson | Watch a video about the Flower Garden Banks

Activities for Kids

Activities for Educators

  • FGBNMS education activities
    This collection of activities from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary includes lessons about corals, watersheds, habitat monitoring, and other topics related to the sanctuary.
  • Observing Animal Behavior in the Wild
    This JASON Field Assignment activity sends students into a local ecosystem to investigate adaptations species have made in order to survive.
  • Manta Mysteries (pdf document)
    In this Immersion Learning activity, kids learn how researchers use photographs and acoustic tagging to study manta rays at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Then they play a game to simulate the identification of manta rays in the sanctuary. Science topics include manta ray biology, photo identification, acoustic tagging, and the nature of science.
  • Coral Construction (pdf document)
    In this Immersion Learning activity, kids model the beginning of coral reef formation at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Science topics include corals, biotic factors, and abiotic factors.

About the Live Event

On Thursday, April 7, JASON will broadcast four live shows, lasting approximately 40 minutes each. During the shows you'll learn about Emma and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and have the chance to submit text questions and answer interactive polls. In addition, you can submit video questions before the event. Schools submitting video questions increase the odds of their questions being used during the event.

Video Question Submission Guidelines

  • Video question submission is open until 9pm ET on March 29
  • Make sure your video question relates to Emma and her work
  • Ensure that your video is well-lit and the audio is free of background noise
  • Please record only one question per video clip. You can submit as many as you like!
  • Students should state their first name only, the state or country they are from, and their question
  • Unfortunately we cannot use all the video questions we receive. The more creative and interesting you are, the better your chances of being selected!

Each student submitting a video question must also fax in a permission form with a parent or guardian's signature. Download student permission form.

National Middle School Science Standards

  • C.4.b. Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. Plants and some microorganisms are producers--they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.
  • G.1.a Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds--and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations--engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.
  • C.4.d The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition. Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.