Environmental Biology

Student shares his Hood experience

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Curtis RogersCurtis Rogers, a Master of Science candidate in Environmental Biology works with the USDA Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, MD. A position he says he was able to get due to the guidance and support of professors at Hood. He has this to say about his experience at Hood.

Why did you choose to pursue a graduate degree?

I chose to pursue a graduate degree in order to open more doors directly related to my interests in the job market, and to hone in on specific areas of study important to my future goals.

Why did you choose Hood College graduate school?

I chose Hood College due to its intimate classroom settings and knowledgeable instructors. The programs offered also piqued my interests, as did the proximity to both my home and relatable career opportunities.

What do you value about your relationship with your professors?        

During my years at Hood, I was afforded the opportunity to develop great relationships with my many professors, including professors that I did not even have classes with. I feel as if the relationships I formed with them will transcend my years at Hood, and will extend into my future endeavors. Dr. April Boulton, my thesis advisor, has proven especially integral in my educational and professional pursuits. Without her guidance, I could not have attained what I have. Her faith in me directly led me to my current employment with the USDA Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, MD. This job is VERY rewarding and has furthered my education and experience immensely.

What is the most rewarding class or academic experience at Hood?

I greatly enjoyed all of my classes at Hood, and all of my professors pushed me towards excellence. The coursework that I completed in the insect sciences especially led me towards my main interests.

How do you manage your many other obligations?

Several weeks into Biostatistics, my first class at Hood, my daughter was born. The professor, Dr. Michael Alavanja, was extremely helpful and gave me a few extensions on some coursework. After she was born, balancing family and school was easy for me. During my first three years at Hood I worked on my family farm, so I cannot attest to scheduling related to a more common work routine.

Tips for prospective students

My main tip to prospective students wishing to enroll in Hood College’s graduate school would be to take time getting to know your professors and peers. Both can be very valuable resources to help you solve problems and learn efficiently.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I spend time with my family mostly. Presently, my job is keeping me busy during the week, and finishing my thesis is keeping me busy on weekends. Once my thesis is completed, I hope to enjoy my weekends with friends and family a bit more.

Hood alumnus begins new job at World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

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Brad GoodmanBrad Goodman, an alumnus of Hood College’s Masters in Environmental Biology program, recently started a position with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC. Brad graduated from the University of Delaware in 2008 with a B.A. in History, which he says was his favorite subject.

After graduation Brad served in the Peace Corps from 2008–10 and again in 2012. In the entire time he was with the Corps, he served in the Andes Mounts in Peru. He has this to say about that experience- “In addition to assisting local governments, villagers, and non-profits in implementing projects that increased local quality of life while preserving the environment, I was extremely lucky to live in a fantastically beautiful area at 12,000 feet above sea level. Seeing the great work being accomplished in conditions that were not always ideal, usually by very inspiring locals and Peace Corps volunteers, I became hooked. From that point on I decided my work in the environmental sector should turn into a career.

He tells us a more about his Hood experience and career goals.

Why did you choose Hood?
I chose the Environmental Biology Master’s program at Hood because it is a very flexible program in terms of the courses you can take. It is also the only program I could find in the Mid-Atlantic that accepted students who didn’t have a major in science or who were looking to change careers. The location close to Washington, DC and to home in Delaware also helped.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Hood?
Honestly, I had no idea where Frederick, Maryland even was when I applied. However, the more I got to know the downtown area and its cafes (especially the cafes!), the more I appreciated the beauty and surprising liveliness of the town. I really enjoyed taking a break to walk around Frederick, especially during the fall time of the year.

What project did you work on while at Hood?
I did a final project while working for Frederick County Government’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources. There I helped develop the County’s first watershed restoration plan. My focus was on identifying management practices that lowered the total count of E. coli bacteria in waterways and on calculating the change in counts with these practices.

How did your experience at Hood contribute towards landing the position at WWF?
The hiring team told me that the most important thing is that the candidate demonstrates a passion and understanding of conservation work, since that is an indicator of someone who will be happy and work towards World Wildlife Fund’s goals. My Master’s degree demonstrated this, as it helped me understand the projects being done with WWF and shows my long-term commitment to conservation and sustainable development.

Tell us a little about your new position
As Project Coordinator, I’ll be assisting grantees and consultants in processing their project proposals for WWF. This is a great opportunity for me to learn about the many projects going on in all goal areas (such as climate, forests, food, etc.) and regions (Latin American and Caribbean, Africa, etc.). It is also a great opportunity to meet the many inspiring people working to protect wildlife and to promote a better way of living for human beings.

CPT/OPT Information Session

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Computer Science, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, International Students, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

IMG_20161003_153242Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are two important components of the academic experience for most F1 international students.  These programs allow students to gain valuable experience and earn money while working on or off campus during the academic year (CPT) or during the summer (OPT).  As part of the Graduate School’s efforts to empower students with resources that will contribute towards a successful graduate experience, an information session was held recently in partnership with the International Student Services Office and the Career Center.

This event provided an overview of the CPT/OPT process and also provided the opportunity for students to ask questions and receive immediate answers from Dr. Kiran Chadda, Director of International Student Services, Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. April Boulton and Lana Veres  of the Career Center.

The presentations covered areas such as employment options available to F1 international students, procedures for obtaining employment authorization, late stage CPT and internships as well a demo of the GoinGlobal website for job search. Students were also treated to pizza and drinks.

To view the resources shared at the session, visit this link.

Student earns scholarship award for summer internship project

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Jared Tomlin, C’16, a Master of Science candidate in environmental biology, was presented with a scholarship award from Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at a recent event held at the NASA headquarters.  He worked with NASA this summer on a project focused on ecological forecasting. This video gives an overview of the project.

Jared is back at Hood to start work on his thesis, which will examine the effect of riparian zones on flooding in the Shenandoah Watershed.

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Student Works with NASA this Summer

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IMG_90722Jared Tomlin, C’16, a Masters of Science in environmental biology candidate, is working with NASA this summer on a project focused on ecological forecasting.

Tomlin is conducting work as a participant in the NASA DEVELOP Program, which is a part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program and operates at 13 locations throughout the nation. Tomlin’s project team is working at NASA Goddard Space and Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and partnering with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor and forecast the abundance and distribution of invasive brome grasses in the Northern Plateau.

The brome grasses impair the area’s native grasslands and contribute to a decrease in native species diversity. Understanding the behavior of the invasive species through space and time is key in developing successful management efforts.

“The program functions to give partner organizations, such as the National Park Service, the ability to better understand complex, landscape level environmental questions for decision making by utilizing the constellation of Earth observing NASA satellites, tools and operational support,” he said.

In addition to the years of field data collected by scientists in the area, the job requires the use of Landsat and Terra satellites, both part of NASA’s Earth observations fleet.

Tomlin earned a certificate in geographic information systems from Hood College in May, making him well equipped for the position. The selection process for participants in the DEVELOP program is considered highly competitive.

“Attending the Hood job fair with a résumé in hand to talk to the DEVELOP representative gave me a start, and my adviser was key in helping navigate the process,” he said. “A strong GPA with a background in GIS and Earth sciences, as well as technical ability in programming and design, were key in my acceptance.”

Tomlin learned about many different GIS and remote sensing solutions throughout his GIS course work, and he maintained a focus on environmental biology and climate change.

“The education I received at Hood College was paramount,” he said.

Before pursuing graduate studies at Hood, Tomlin attended Shepherdstown University in West Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and sustainability. He plans to continue his education to earn a doctorate and go on to work at NASA or a similar organization.

Meet Program Directors at Virtual Open Houses

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Can’t make it to campus but want to talk with top faculty about Graduate School programs?  Six virtual open houses in November 2015 provide online opportunities to do just that.

Meet directors of the Biomedical Science, Environmental Biology, MBA, Management of Information Technology and Information Technology masters programs and the GIS and Cybersecurity certificate programs. Ask questions and get answers straight from the source. Go to the Visit Us page to register for your choice of sessions.

Grad Spreads the Word About Watershed Issues

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ENV Renee BourassaIn 2009, when she started her graduate work at Hood, Renee Bourassa was working as a loan processor for a small mortgage company. The job allowed her the flexibility to take classes at night in order to work towards a new career in environmental science. Later she chose the internship option to complete the program, leaving her day job to pursue an internship at a local organic farm called Fox Haven Farm.

That summer, Renee says, “I worked through the practical applications of the environmental principles I had learned in class, including the importance of riparian buffers, soil conservation and other foundations of organic farming. My master’s project involved testing nutrient management practices to see how they changed nutrient levels in the soil.” As the internship came to a close, Renee took a position at the farm’s education center where she “did a little bit of everything” –  including designing and implementing educational programs for all ages geared towards living a healthier, environmentally-focused life.

These days Renee can be found at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin where her job is to inform the public of issues concerning the Potomac watershed. “My education at Hood College gave me the background in science and the understanding of ecological systems to translate our work at ICPRB into terms the general public can understand and relate to,” Renee says.

In addition to a master’s in Environmental Biology (2014), Renee earned a GIS Certificate (2013) and a B.A. in Law and Society (2007) from Hood . She and her husband now make their home in Boyds, Maryland.  They expect their first child in January 2016.

Hood Alum Presents at Prestigious Toxicology Conference

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Emma Bowers

Emma Bowers

Hood College Graduate School alum Emma Bowers recently presented a talk and poster at the prestigious Gordon Research Conference on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity. Now a doctoral student in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Curriculum in Toxicology (CiT) program, Emma earned her master’s in Environmental Biology from Hood in 2012. She presented her doctoral research on the proinflammatory adaptive response to ozone and the differences in inflammatory response between acute and chronic exposures in a poster titled “Modeling ozone adaption in vitro: Inter-individual variation and epigenetic contributions.”

Emma has tailored her research toward filling a perceived knowledge gap in epigenetics: “I am working to build a model for the role of the epigenome in the susceptibility to the adverse effects of air pollution exposure. Once we identify crucial markers associated with susceptibility, we can then collaborate with scientists in other fields . . . to identify risk factors and susceptible populations.”

Her advisor at UNC-Chapel Hill says that Emma’s research will have broad implications in epigenetics and environmental research methodology: “Her work is going to be extremely informative in both understanding how we will respond chronically to pollutants and also understanding who is susceptible and how we can identify these people.”

Published with permission from EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL. Author: Tess Liebersohn, contracted writer for NHEERL/ORD. Photo courtesy of UNC. 

Cyrana Honored as Outstanding Environmental Biology Student

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Michael Cyrana is the recipient of the 2015 Christopher H. Smith Outstanding Environmental Biology Student Award. During his time at Hood, exemplified many of the best qualities that the Environmental Biology faculty looks for in its students.

In the faculty nomination, professor of biology Drew Ferrier described Mike as “an active and involved student in the classroom, always adding to discussions and making insightful connections among seemingly divergent topics. He also excelled in his research, working independently to develop a novel research study that assessed the ability of hooked mussels to develop defenses against being preyed upon by both native and non-native crabs.”

In the course of his work,  Mike also collaborated with and helped direct two undergraduate students who were conducting related studies – providing him with a first mentoring experience and the undergraduates with a valuable first research experience.

Since graduating from Hood in September, 2014, Mike was accepted as a Ph.D. student at Tulane University in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  He is now a doctoral teaching assistant there and beginning further studies.

“Ebola Fighter” to Speak at Graduate School Commencement

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Dr. Thomas Geisbert

Dr. Thomas Geisbert

The Graduate School of Hood College is honored to have Dr. Thomas W. Geisbert deliver the keynote address at its 2015 Commencement on May 16.  Dr. Geisbert was one of several “Ebola fighters” spotlighted by Time magazine in its 2014″Person of the Year” selection. 

As a researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, Geisbert co-discovered the reston species of Ebola virus in 1989. This work was the subject of many articles in scientific literature and in the popular press as well as Richard Preston’s best-selling novel “The Hot Zone.” He is now a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Galveston National Laboratory.