SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Shea Tuberty

Dr. Shea Tuberty, Professor, Department of Biology
Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund Recipient: Spring 2023

Project: "CAS Sponsorship of the 2023 Carolinas' Area Benthologists Workshop (CABW)"

Dr. Tuberty received a Spring 2023 Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) grant to cover expenses for the Carolinas' Area Benthologists Workshop held at Appalachian State's Department of Biology, and Camp Broadstone from March 20-22, 2023.

The 2023 workshop was the first in several years due to the pandemic. It was attended by biologists and environmental scientists from 22 organizations, including academic institutions, environmental consulting firms, federal and state agencies, local and regional environmental nonprofits, and the energy sector.

Tuberty, who has served as the lead organizer of the workshop since 2019, shared that five App State students presented their research during platform sessions and six students attended the two-and-a-half day program. "Students were able to attend a regional conference free of charge and on their home turf, present their research to content experts from the region, and network with professional biologists from a wide array of industry positions," he said.

Additionally, four faculty members presented their research. Dr. Cara Fiore, assistant professor of marine microbiology in the Department of Biology, led a freshwater sponge identification workshop attended by 24 benthologists who brought her samples of sponges from their watersheds. "This has helped her [Dr. Fiore] become the 'go to' researcher in the Carolinas for sponge identification and hopefully samples sent to her into the future will help her to catalog the diversity of this understudied animal group. The materials that were collated for the workshop will make for an excellent resource for students and regional biologists alike," explained Tuberty.

The 2024 Carolinas' Area Benthologists Workshop is scheduled for April 14-16 in Boone. For more information, visit


About the SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Department of Biology
The Department of Biology is a community of teacher-scholars, with faculty representing the full breadth of biological specializations — from molecular genetics to landscape/ecosystem ecology. The department seeks to produce graduates with sound scientific knowledge, the skills to create new knowledge, and the excitement and appreciation of scientific discovery. Learn more at

Written by Lauren Gibbs
February 15, 2024

Dr. Shea Tuberty, professor in Appalachian State University's Department of Biology and director of the university's Quality Enhancement Plan.
Published: Feb 15, 2024 10:35am