Doane College President Jacque Carter and student Brittany Boyd missed the best time to be a marine biologist in Nebraska by about 100 million years.

Late in the Cretaceous Period, when the region lay at the bottom of a massive inland sea that covered about one-third of what is now the United States, massive dinosaurs and fish swam in the sea, their bones becoming fossilized in the muddy sea floor when the sea dried up.

A few eons later and a thousand miles from the nearest sea, Carter and Boyd are in the process of writing an interactive field guide to 525 species of coral reef fish of Belize.

For two Nebraska scientists to be authoring a book for Caribbean tourists snorkeling off the coast of Central America, or a reference book for marine park managers and ichthyologists (fish scientists), the world under the sea holds a strong affinity.

“The whole time I’ve been in administration, I’ve managed to continue my scientific interest, maybe not at the same level or intensity, but with students who are interested,” said Carter, who has been leading the liberal arts college in Crete since 2011.

That’s when he found Boyd, a Papillion-LaVista High School student by way of Minnesota who attended the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s Zoo Academy her junior and senior years.

A full-day program for high school students interested in science and animals, the Zoo Academy provides internships in careers like zoology, genetics, animal behavior and Boyd’s passion, marine biology.

She interned at the zoo’s aquarium studying octopus behavior and jellyfish reproduction, taking a science project to a national science fair in San Jose, California, before learning about Doane at a summer camp for Native Americans.

As someone planning a future in the sciences, Boyd said she has found a home at the liberal arts college where the only marine life may be the catfish or carp swimming in the nearby Big Blue River.

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