Environmental Biology

Passing the Torch: Advice From Graduated Students to New Ones

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Humanities, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305As we near the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic school year, the Graduate School at Hood College is excited to welcome all new and returning students! For many, this is their first experience with graduate school. As this is a different experience from undergraduate work, we asked some of our recent graduates for their advice for incoming students.
Lois Johnson-Mead, a recent M.S. in Environmental Biology graduate, thinks that “graduate school is a chance to push boundaries and look inside yourself to find out what you want to explore. I encourage students to try different classes, stretch beyond their normal expectations, join in on events, lectures, and symposiums that can stretch your thinking and potential. Hood College asked me to examine how I think, what I care about, and to discover so much more than I expected. I hope all new graduate students, especially international students, give themselves the chance to embrace those opportunities; after all that’s the Hood Way!”

 

Merrideth Wile, a graduate of the M.S. in Counseling program, said simply to “pace yourself, and enjoy the process.” Work through classes at the schedule that it right for you and try to get the most out of it.

 

When asked about what incoming students should know, Tara Scibelli, who earned her M.A. in Humanities, said to “do all the assigned readings to get the most out of your classes.” Everyone gets busy, but the more that you do for the class, the more that you will gain.

 

Mia Zimnick, another Environmental Biology graduate, explains you should “prioritize your education. It may be easy to get caught up in life outside of school, but while you’re in the program, try to make it your main focus. This includes reaching out to your professors when you need help, forming study groups with your fellow students, and spending a few weekends in the lab. It’ll all be worth it when you’re done.”

 

Megan Ramsburg, who graduated with an M.S. in Reading Specialization thinks that “it is important to know that you can approach your professors. They are here to help you and can be very accommodating to your needs. Ultimately, they all want to see you succeed in your program.”

 

Mir Abdul Wasay, the outgoing Graduate Student Association president who completed his M.S. in Information Technology stated, “I personally believe that education neither starts nor ends in the classroom.”

 

Finally, Environmental Biology graduate Kevin Stanfield advises to “immerse yourself in the experience. You may have recurring dreams about the effects of climate change on an obscure species of owl, but it makes learning easier!”

Kevin Stanfield – The new age of environmental research and drones

Posted by | Computer Science, Environmental Biology, Geographic Information Systems, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology | No Comments

IMG_5053Kevin Stanfield just graduated from Hood, with a Master of Science in Environmental Biology, and a certificate in Global Information Systems, and his thesis related to environmental science and the use of drones and computational/remote sensing techniques​.

The thesis, “Developing Methods to Differentiate Species and Estimate Coverage of Benthic Autotrophs in the Potomac Using Digital Imaging,” involved finding a way to use drone imagery to quantify coverage of benthic vegetation in the Potomac River. “When I started my thesis track, I went to each of the professors in the Environmental Biology Department and explained my interest in GIS and riparian ecosystems before asking whether they had any ongoing research in this area.” Dr. Drew Ferrier, Kevin’s advisor, had been looking into quantifying benthic cyanobacteria coverage in the Potomac with digital photography. Dr. George Dimitoglou, Associate Professor in Hood’s Computer Science Department, had been working with Dr. Ferrier on this and other projects and had used drones to look at benthic features in the Potomac the year before. Dr. Dimitoglou was willing to join Kevin’s committee and provide his drones for the project. The committee was rounded out by Dr. Kevin Sellner, a senior scholar at Hood, and a cyanobacteria expert. All three provided an immense amount of feedback and advice for the project. They also brought in many of their friends and professional contacts who provided data, equipment, and input on the research design.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all lent aid in the form of equipment or data. Kevin presented his research at the Western Maryland GIS Users Conference, hosted by Hood on May 18th, 2018. He presented to the National Park Service in late June. “My thesis took almost two years to complete, from my first meeting to my final revisions. It was a difficult process, but I am very happy to have gone through it,” concludes Kevin.

Before starting his Hood journey, Kevin could not decide between Environmental Biology and Geographic Information Systems. Hood College happened to have a program that combined the two, and was also local and competitively priced. “In the end, the decision was easy”, says Kevin. He believes the Environmental Biology program has prepared him well for this field. The incorporation of GIS into ENV shows that the department has current knowledge of what employers and researchers are looking for in program graduates. Kevin will soon be starting a GIS internship with the National Park Service through the American Conservation Experience. During this 34-week internship, he will be mapping the easements and rights of way which cross the C&O Canal National Park and attaching any legal documentation or relevant information to the spatial data.

What advice does Kevin have for both incoming and current students in the Environmental Biology Program? “I would encourage incoming graduate students to make friends with everyone in their program, both students and professors. Not only do you have similar interests, but these people will soon be your professional peers. This will give you a pool of professionals to reach out to if you are in need of work or workers. I would also encourage students who are pursuing the thesis track to choose research that they will enjoy doing, because it will consume your life for a year or two, and it is a lot easier to make yourself work if you are also having fun.”

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Classes start soon! Register today. Learn more about our programs designed for environmental biologists:

Environmental Biology,M.S.

GIS Certificate

Hood’s Third Annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

Posted by | Curriculum and Instruction, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, International Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_6897Kelly Cunningham, a Master of Science candidate in Environmental Biology, is Hood College’s 2018 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition winner. Kelly’s thesis is entitled Identifying Locations in the Greater Washington D.C. Area Most at Risk from Future Development, on the risk to the environment of development in our local area. Kelly presented a technical problem in a non-technical way and was awarded the $600 first-place prize from Hood’s Graduate School.

Members of the audience selected two People’s Choice winners, each of whom was awarded $200. Winners were Kamal Saran Rangavajhula, an M.S Candidate in Management of Information Systems (MIS), presented his semester-long research Detection of Unauthorized Usage of User Accounts through Mouse Dynamics. Kemal conducted this research with the help of professors Dr. Carol Jim and Dr. Ahmed Salem. Jessica McClain, an M.S candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, won with The Effects of Metacognitive Reading Strategies on French L2 Vocabulary Acquisition.

Internationally recognized and valued by employers, the 3MT competition is a way for graduate students to relay their capstone, advanced project, thesis or internship to a non-technical audience. 14 Hood Graduate students gained valuable experience in developing academic, presentation and communication skills. Applicants from seven Master’s Programs — MBA, Environmental Biology, Biomedical Science, Bioinformatics, Curriculum and Instruction, Management Information Systems, and Thanatology, and two 2 Doctoral programs — Doctorate of Organizational Leadership and Doctorate in Business Administration participated. This was Hood’s third year of 3MT sponsorship and The Graduate School hopes to continue this fun and educational tradition in years to come.
Congratulations once again to our winners!

What Will You Remember?

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305It’s time to celebrate those completing their Hood College Graduate School degrees! We wanted to know what they celebrated about Hood. Throughout their time here, what was their favorite memory? From their professors to experiences that will help them in their fields and the friends that they made, all of the graduates had great memories to share…

 

Kevin Stanfield, who is receiving his M.S. in Environmental Biology, enjoys remembering the antics of some of his favorite professors, like “watching Dr. (Eric) Annis describe an ecological niche considering n variables in an n-dimensional hyperspace using interpretive dance” and how “Dr. (Eric) Kindahl can deliver riveting two-hour lectures without saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or misspeaking even if you intentionally try to derail him.”

 

M. S. in Reading Specialization recipients Megan Ramsburg and Emily Sikora talked about the reading clinic as their favorite memory. Megan said “this might sound silly, but Summer Reading Clinic may be my favorite (and hardest) memory of the program. It is amazing how much we were able to help these struggling readers in only 6 weeks. Plus, I enjoyed my time with the other clinicians immensely. They really made this experience my favorite memory. We became a family who were able to provide emotional, instructional, and motivational support to each other on a constant basis. The experience truly tested us in so many ways and yet, provided us with the skills and confidence in ourselves that we (some days) didn’t know we had.” Emily agrees, saying “I was able to see how the application of the skills that I learned had an impact on the students I was working with. During this time, I also developed a close friendship with the other clinicians. We supported each other to analyze the data and provide prescriptive instruction to the students.”

 

For M. S. in Counseling graduate Merrideth Wile, her favorite memory is all about her relationship with her fellow students. She explains “this is not a specific memory, but I cherish the friends I’ve made.” Mia Zimnik, another Environmental Biology graduate, agrees when she said “after my first round of finals myself and the rest of my cohort went out downtown to celebrate. We were all so happy to be done with our first exams of grad school, so proud of ourselves, and were all feeling very relieved! We continued this tradition up until this past round of finals, and it really helped get us through the exams.”

 

Mir Abdul Wasay, who will receive his M.S. in Information Technology and is the outgoing president of Graduate Student Association (GSA), said that “I’m going to miss the GSA events. They are sweet memories for rest of my life and I will not forget trip to New York with some amazing friends and colleagues.”

 

Lois Johnson-Mead, who is also a graduate in the Environmental Biology program, chose a memory that connected her learning with hands-on experience and a chance to practice her skills. She explains that being “invited to travel down the Potomac River to assess the health of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population on a historic buyboat for a marine ecology course was one of the favorite, all-encompassing memories I have as an ENV graduate student. Being a part of a discovery team showed me the potential of my graduate degree and connected me with real world issues and possible solutions.”

 

Stay tuned to hear about our graduate’s future plans!

Hood Graduates Appreciate Their Teachers!

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Humanities | No Comments

The academic year is almost over, so what do the graduates of Hood College’s Graduate School think? For Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to know who their favorite professor at Hood was and why. While everyone said that they loved all their professors, they were each able to pick one that stood out.

 

laurajones2For Merrideth Wile, who will be receiving her M.S. in Counseling, “all of the counseling staff are wonderful, but Dr. Laura Jones is an exceptional teacher and working counselor. Everything she does from the minute you walk into class until you leave models interventions you can use with students.” Dr. Jones is a school counselor in Frederick County Public Schools, was the Maryland School Counselor Association’s 2016 Counselor of the Year - for which she was invited to a celebration at the White House! - and 2018 Counselor Educator of the Year for her work with Hood College students.

 

Lois Johnson-Mead graduated with an M.S. in Environmental Biology last fall. As she explains, “I loved all my ENV professors; each one was devoted to a specialized ecological area, yet they all wanted their students to be in love with their specialty! I had the chance to learn from a variety of professors, to become a mini-expert in their field, and to grasp essentials concepts or as Dr. Eric Annis would say ‘make sure you were picking up what he was puttin’ down!’ How can you pick a favorite from a gaggle of favorites?” Hood’s Environmental Biology Program has an amazing group of professors, with 94% holding their Ph.D. All have a plethora of expertise in their field as well as practical experiences from involvement with groups from the National Cancer Institute to the National Park Service and the USDA.  Eric Annis

 

Tara Scibelli, graduating with an M.A. in Humanities, mentioned Dr. Corey Campion “because he showed genuine concern for all the students in the program and was also an excellent lecturer.” Dr. Campion, Humanities Program Director, is a scholar of modern European history. He teaches a variety of courses on modern Germany and the history of the modern West and maintains an interest in the study of French and German language, culture, and politics.  DSC_9453-cropped

 

Stay tuned for more thoughts from our new graduates!

Alumni Profile – Working for the World Wildlife Fund

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

HoodPicBrad Goodman, an alumnus of Hood College’s Masters in Environmental Biology program, works for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC, as a Project Coordinator, Program Operations. Brad started at WWF in 2016 and “Since I started I’ve expanded my responsibilities and now support our entire Freshwater team and most of our Oceans team.” He has come to know the program and the people in the field more, which makes it much easier. The most exciting part of Brad’s job is supporting a project from the very beginning- this way he knows the work being done both inside and out, and as conditions – financial, timeline, or otherwise – change, understanding how WWF goes about challenges while still meeting grant requirements and conservation goals.
Brad believes the knowledge he received at Hood was quite current. “This is especially true regarding the food industry and our eating habits, and how they contribute to environmental issues and climate change.” WWF is especially interested in this issue now, trying to transform markets by attacking the issue from multiple angles- consumer, corporate, and government.

Brad would advise any student to not be against taking a job that isn’t totally in line with your studies. For example, grants management wasn’t part of his studies at Hood or before the University of Delaware, but it’s an important skill if you want to manage conservation projects someday. Every project needs to be funded, and those funds and the project need to be properly monitored, concludes Brad.

When asked “Why Hood College?” Brad replied: “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.” Hood’s location close to Washington, DC and to home in Delaware also helped in making his decision. His Master’s degree helped him understand the projects being done with WWF and showed his long-term commitment to conservation and sustainable development, which in the end contributed toward landing his current job.

An Environmental Biology student in action

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

IMG_8423Mia Zimnik, a Hood College Environmental Biology student, says she chose this path because she was “tired of working with animals in captivity, and would rather work in preserving wild populations of those same animals.” Mia spent the spring, summer and fall of 2017 working as an avian research technician for Patuxent Wildlife Research Center under the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Dr. Diann Prosser. The project was focusing on the breeding population of common and least terns on Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay. “It was an incredible experience, and despite being the hardest job I’ve ever had, I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Mia is using data she gathered for her Master’s independent research project, which is measuring egg survivability of the common tern in relation to proximity to nearest nest.

Currently employed as an Environmental Specialist for Angler Environmental/Resource Environmental Solutions, Mia surveys local construction sites, making sure there is no sediment-laden water leaving the site and washing into the waterways, which would eventually get to the Chesapeake Bay. Mia learned about her current job from her department’s professors. “This program has been incredible for my professional development. I really value how the professors here have such rich real-world experience, and want the students to do as well as we can.” Mia also points out she has never felt as if she is “annoying” professors by asking for professional help outside of school, and that she has always had great relationship with her peers. For Mia, Hood is a really supportive community that only wants success for everyone who is a part of it.

Mia’s tips for the current graduate students? Always be organized and to push for what you want. She also mentions that it is crucial not to burn bridges, as well as to make lasting personal and professional connections while you are in the graduate school. “Nobody will work as hard for your future as you will, so put yourself and your dreams first.”

Hood Graduate Student presents research at ESA and ECN Conferences

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

IMG_1600Jennifer Erin Pierce, a 2017 graduate of Hood College’s MS program in Environmental Biology, recently published research she has been working on as a part of her Internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). “Braconidae of Plummers Island and Comparison of the Fauna in Canopy and Understory”, was presented at this year’s Entomological Society of America (ESA) Conference and the Entomological Collections Network (ECN), both in Denver CO.

Plummers Island is a 12-acre Potomac River island in Montgomery County, Maryland, about nine miles upriver from Washington, D.C., and is the most scientifically studied island in North America. The goal of the study was to determine species richness between the canopy and understory of Braconidae, important parasitoid wasps used for biocontrol, in eastern deciduous forests, and to understand if stratification occurs. “My job was to chemically dehydrate the specimens, point mount them, label them, and then identify all of the Braconids to their genus and then separate them into their different species.” Jennifer is currently working on naming the specimens, which can be difficult because not all genera have species keys. Once the species were separated, Jennifer and her team found out that they would need around 1600 specimens from the canopy and the understory individually before they reached species saturation, indicating that there are potentially a lot more species to be found on Plummers Island. They also found that species richness and abundance is higher for the understory compared to the canopy. Jennifer is hoping to get back to Plummers Island this summer for more sampling.

Jennifer was assisted in her research by Dr. Bob Kula, a research entomologist for the USDA Systematic Entomology Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. She has only words of praise for her mentor. “He’s been a great mentor for this project and has encouraged me every step of the way.” Jennifer was also assisted by Dr. Michal Parak, a researcher at the Institute of Forest Ecology in Slovakia who helped with the statistics on the project and often collaborates with Dr. Kula.

Jennifer’s Hood experience provided the background knowledge needed for this project. “A lot of the courses I’ve taken for this program are ecology-based which has helped me understand why stratification of Braconidae could be occurring on Plummers.” Jennifer also gained writing skills through her coursework which has been a big help, along with the interpretation of statistical results. She mentioned in particular Dr. April Boulton’s Insect Ecology course, which provided helpful background knowledge on the subject.
According to Jennifer, among the essential things for a student is to go out there and make contacts. “I’ve learned that networking is an important part of research because scientists are always collaborating with one another. Whether it’s through internships or volunteering, go out there and meet some scientists!”

NASA DEVELOP and other adventures

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

TomlinCasaRosaJared Tomlin, a Hood College Environmental Biology student, was a self-taught graphic and web designer before entering school as a non-traditional student. He wanted to spend more time in nature and hopefully make a positive impact on the world, which changed his focus from technology to environmental science. He graduated from Shephard University in 2014 with a BS in Environmental Studies and received multiple scholarships and grants, before joining Hood’s Graduate School and continuing his pursuit of knowledge.

Jared learned about the NASA DEVELOP program by attending Hood’s Career and Internship Fair. After a lengthy application process he was accepted and began work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in summer, 2016. During the 10 week program, Jared’s team collaborated with United States Geologic Service and National Park Service ecologists at the Badlands National Park to identify invasive cheatgrass, and managed to present the findings at the Department of the Interior and NASA Headquarters at the Annual Earth and Science Application Showcase. He was also awarded the Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) scholarship, and was accepted for another term at Goddard in the summer of 2017, as a team leader. Jared then assisted in identifying areas of low resilience in the country of Niger, in collaboration with global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. More information about their efforts can be found in this video: https://youtu.be/yQokSfq7hOw. Jared was also selected to attend the NASA Disaster Risk Reduction Across the Americas Summit in Buenos Aires, where he represented Cloud to Street, a private company that uses Google Earth Engine, cloud computing, and machine learning to identify historical floods at a scale not previously possible.

For all students looking to pursue a career with NASA, Jared suggests looking into DEVELOP. There are many opportunities for many different fields and interests, from earth science to program management to information technology, and even graphic design. Jared suggests following up and asking questions, to set yourself apart from someone who simply applies for the position.
Jared recalls that his arrival to Hood was accompanied with the expectation to accomplish great things, above and beyond a master’s degree. “What has stuck out the most to me during my time here was how the faculty encourages students to go and make their own path in the industry and foster relationships.” Jared also learned that developing a network is crucial in being successful in the community, as transition from the classroom into the field can be both challenging and exciting pursuit. “Hood has prepared me to meet that challenge and giving me the background to continue to grow.”

Adventurous Internship in Guam

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

charlieCharlie Cheul – Woo Kwak, an Environmental Biology student at Hood College, has returned from a summer internship in Guam, spent surveying the Guam National Wildlife Refuge. This competitive internship is known as USFWS-DFP US Fish and Wildlife Service – Directorate Fellowship Program (USFWS-DEP), and Charlie first heard about it from Graduate School Dean Dr. April Boulton. He went through the long process of applying for a federal position, succeeded and headed off to Guam.

Charlie’s internship consisted largely of surveying the closed side of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge, which had never been comprehensively explored and surveyed. What made it even more adventurous is the fact that there was no data on what could be out there. At times, Charlie was the first person who ever set foot at that part of the Refuge. He successfully recorded over 170 survey plots on soil, dominant species, canopy cover, ungulate damage and target plant species. Charlie also put over 1000 trees on a final map. His most memorable experience was when he first created a map using ArcMap with his field data. About a month and a half into the project, he put about one quarter of the data points into the mapping software, creating a visual representation of everything that was in the thick of the jungle. “This was the first time I had ever taken on a professional project from start to finish – from field data to map – from ground-truthing to presentation.

Fun moments were not scarce. Charlie found an ancient pictograph of the indigenous Chamorro people drawn on a cave wall.  As no one had seen that relic before Charlie, he was excited to share that news to everyone, including the archaeologists on the island!  “As a ‘bonus,’ I walked over an unexploded grenade from WWII.  It didn’t explode when I stepped over it!! When asked to provide advice to our current students, Charlie emphasized the importance of persistence. “I would advise that they apply to as many internship or practicum as possible.  I applied to total of 16 positions and received 15 rejection letters prior to getting the one acceptance!”