Six years of Maine Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholarships at COA: Part 1

For the seventh year Maine Sea Grant is offering its Undergraduate Scholarship, and COA will be one of the participating institutions, as we have been since this scholarship started in 2014. Second and third year COA students are eligible to apply.  For more information about eligibility, with a description and link to the application go to this Maine Sea Grant page or contact me via email.  Deadline for applications is June 1, 2020 — Chris Petersen 

In 2014, three COA students received undergraduate scholarships from Maine Sea Grant for their academic work on marine and coastal issues as second and third-year undergrads.  Six years later  I thought it might be fun to check in with that inaugural group, Ellie Oldach, Madeline Motley, and Roshni Mangar,  and have them give updates.


Madeline 2020Roshni pic2Ellie-w-abalone-red
Left to Right, Madeline (with one of her many pets), Roshni on what I think must be a west coast beach (looks too cold for the Indian Ocean), and Ellie holding a tasty invertebrate. Top picture of baby sea turtles by Madeline Motley.

Madeline Motley.  Madeline actually wrote the student announcement for this scholarship in 2015, and highlighted Ellie, Roshni, and herself, so I thought I’d start with Madeline.  As an undergrad Madeline did internships studying sea turtles and marine conservation in Malaysia and Hawaii.  She also was a co-editor for this blog for her last two years at COA, and was a teaching assistant for marine biology.

Madeline helping to collect algae at a tide pool at Otter Point, and at an amazing coral reef in Malaysia.

Despite her love for marine biology and sea turtles (her senior project was a summary of the different strategies that non-profits and government agencies used in sea turtle conservation and what factors affected the success of these programs), Madeline is back in Wisconsin, in her words in an email from early April:

I have been with Exact Sciences Laboratories for the past 3 1/2 years. I thought it would be temporary, but hey, turns out I absolutely love the company and Wisconsin.  I got my Molecular Biology certification through the ASCP two years ago, and am now a Technical Specialist in the Clinical Lab. The past few weeks have been pretty crazy. We have been putting together a lab to test for COVID19, and we just went live. The project reminded me a lot of putting together that spring break short course.  COA would love this company. They are very environmentally conscious and get creative with recycling. “How are we going to recycle this/do with waste?” are ALWAYS  questions when we get something new. I love it.  

I may have ended up back in my home town, but I wouldn’t be where I was without COA.  I’m able to public speak, teach (I ran an ASCP study group), question things… I don’t know if I would have developed (or even tried) those skills at a large school. Our interdisciplinary education came in handy so many times. Including, yup, art. “Send it to Madeline to make it pretty,” is something I hear a lot. I am very thankful for COA and all the amazing professors. We are planning a trip to Bar Harbor, so hopefully I will be able to thank everyone in person soon. 

Madeline at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory during a molecular genetics short course, and a picture of her in the tropics.

Madeline is married to alum Tyler Freitas and they have a house in Wisconsin. And lots of pets.

Ellie Oldach.  Ellie was a third-year student when she got the scholarship in 2014, and graduated in 2015 after creating several podcasts and an article about Lyme disease for her senior project. Ellie has always been a strong propoent of science communication, and has a blog, zeacology. I think my favorite post of hers is when she put a human face on the fires in California two years ago – you can see it here reprinted in the COA magazine (p. 52). Ellie has been back in Maine quite a bit since graduation, and I saw her just last month at the fishermen’s forum. This is her summary of her years after graduation:

… I then headed off to New Zealand for a year as a Fulbright student working with a lab to study the ecology of the South Island’s intertidal ecosystems. During that dreamy year, I developed an interest in studying and writing about social-ecological systems. Returning to the US, I spent two years in Maine and DC, developing this interest as a freelance ecologist (…it’s a thing! You can do it, too.), then decided to formally study marine social-ecological systems through a PhD program in a newly created Sustainable Oceans Program at UC-Davis.  Now two years into her program at Davis, I’m enjoying explorations into network analysis, surveys and interviews, and the challenges and joys of community-engaged research. I still split my time between California and the gorgeous coast (and community) of Downeast Maine.

Ellie-on-a-lobster-boat-redEllie has been engaged in work on the lobster fishery on both coasts, working with our friends at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries including Dr Josh Stoll – and is supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She also worked with me and Hannah Webber from Schoodic Institute on our rockweed research, and produced this short video on the policy questions surrounding this fishery.

Ellie’s short video on rockweed.

Roshni Mangar. Roshni worked extensively with Allied Whale, the marine mammal non-profit based at COA while she was a student. The summer after she graduated she was the assistant station manager before moving on to combine education and research in Florida and back in the Indian Ocean over the next 3 years.  Roshni wrote a summary of her postgraduate path below, and I’ve also included two COA videos, one short one where she explains her background and a second that was the presentation of her senior project.  First, her summary:

After graduating from COA, I worked as an assistant station manager at Mount Desert Rock for 3 months, followed by working at SeaCamp in Florida. I worked at SeaCamp for 8 months as a marine educator. After SeaCamp, I joined WiseOceans in the Seychelles. At WiseOceans, I worked as a Reef Restoration Officer and a Marine Educator. After working with WiseOceans for a year, I volunteered as a research assistant at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at UC Davis. I worked on krill populations and crab larvae. After my time at Bodega, I returned to Mauritius and worked for WiseOceans again as a Marine Educator. 

Underwater Drill_SeychellesSeychelles_Marine Educator
Roshni working in the Seychelles, underwater setting up surveys and in the classroom.

After Wise Oceans, I started my journey to graduate school! I am currently finishing the last term of my first year at the University of British Columbia at the Institute of Ocean Fisheries. I am a Master’s student in the Project Seahorse Laboratory, under the supervision of Dr. Amanda Vincent. My thesis is on the socio-economic aspects of bottom trawling in Tamil Nadu, India. I will hopefully be starting my field season as soon as the COVID situation is under control. I will be interviewing fishers along the coast of Tamil Nadu to better understand their ties to the fishing industry.

Here is a video of Roshni explaining her educational path to COA:

And here is another short video with her presenting her senior project work to the COA Board of Trustees:

Since 2014, we have had 14 students receive scholarships, including four that are still current students.  I’m going to try to have another post or two updating some of the other students as well. – Stay safe and sane everyone.

About marinestudiesatcoa

Chris is a professor of marine ecology and policy at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine
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1 Response to Six years of Maine Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholarships at COA: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Six years of Maine Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholarships at COA: Part 2 | Marine Studies at COA

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