ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Students, grad assistants and scientists at Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce are excited about the Owls heading to Houston for the Final Four.
While much of the attention surrounding the men’s basketball team has been focused in Boca Raton, FAU has a much larger footprint in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
At Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute 100 miles from Boca Raton, Owen Silvera is working on a project surrounding turbidity.
“We had our first survey in the field offshore of the St. Lucie Inlet yesterday,” Silvera said.
Silvera is a graduate research assistant who is doing research on how cloudy water impacts coral reef development.
“If they’re getting maybe a lack of light, because of sediment in the water,” he said.
What’s clear though to him is how impressed he is with FAU’s run to the Final Four.
He said he’s spent many a night glued to the television, or other devices.
“We’re just a big sports lab,” Silvera said. “We’ve been on research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico and we’ve been listening on the radio.”
Even non-sports fans on campus are on the bandwagon.
“Normally we’re not in the limelight. It’s the Gators, It’s the Miami Heat,” masters student Maggie Rodrigue said. “To be in the Final Four is incredible, it’s amazing.”
For upperclassmen studying marine sciences, Wednesday was presentation today.
“I happen to do seahorses,” Matthew Zoll said. “So, I have my seahorse plush and my seahorse shirt.”
They spend a “semester at sea” on the Treasure Coast away from the Boca and Jupiter campuses.
“It’s sort of like an insulation too, because we’re all here getting along,” FAU senior Julia Perez said. “It’s kind of like a summer camp is kind of what it feels like.”
One student did get to see the basketball action early on.
“It was a lot of fun,” FAU senior Bonnie Burns said. “It was some of the first games of the season, before anyone really knew what was going to happen.”
Now that they know, Silvera wishes he could get a “research” grant to get to Houston.
“I think everyone loves the underdog story and I think it’s cool when you’re the underdog,” he said.
FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is hosting a watch party in Vero Beach on Saturday.