Gretchen Hilt – 2024 William L. Wilson and Diane C. Wilson Scholarship in Karst Science

Biography and MS Research Topic: Gretchen Hilt is a first-year Master’s student at Southeastern Louisiana University. With a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from The University of Tampa and a love for herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles), she is lucky enough to combine those two worlds in her research. She is interested in developing conservation-based assays, as well as using genetic tools for various applications. Gretchen is currently investigating environmental DNA (eDNA) as a conservation tool to detect and monitor the elusive Georgia Blind Cave Salamander (Eurycea wallacei) in submerged cave systems in the Floridan Aquifer system, as well as conducting a novel ecological survey of these understudied habitats. She has presented her work at many local and university meetings, and will continue to present her findings at the local and national levels. Gretchen plans to pursue a PhD upon the completion of her M.S. in the summer of 2025.