Student spotlight: Britney Hay

Britney Hay, PhD student, Environmental Engineering Sciences 

Britney Hay is a first year PhD student in the UF Environmental Engineering Sciences department, currently working with Dr. Andrew Altieri toward her mission of understanding wetland dynamics to ultimately design site-specific management and restorative initiatives in her home country of Antigua & Barbuda. Her research studies ecological responses to thin-layer sediment placement, a wetland restoration strategy often used to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise, in a drowning St. Augustine, FL, saltmarsh. The study will investigate how wetland animals such as crabs and mussels respond to sediment addition, how sediment type and depth influences these responses, and how the presence of mangroves as a result of climate change-driven mangrove expansion may also influence results. 

Recent achievements include receiving the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Dean’s Research Award and a bachelor’s degree in Biogeochemistry from UF. Before pursuing her graduate studies at UF, Britney was a marine conservation program coordinator at a local environmental non-governmental organization in Antigua & Barbuda called the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG.) Some of her primary work there included engaging locals in conservation action through citizen science initiatives aimed at informing management strategies and raising awareness of the value of local ecosystems and wildlife. In 2021, she co-authored a baseline report on the state of mangrove wetlands on the south-eastern side of Antigua entitled “Mangrove Wetland Surveys of the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park.” Her cumulative experiences working with these ecosystems drove her to her current work with environmental management and restoration.