Charting Your Course: Part 1 of 4

hello everybody and welcome to the first part of inside william mary’s school of marine science here at the virginia institute of marine science today we’ll be talking about charting your course in marine science from graduate school to career i’m very excited to have this event and to start it out my name is john griffin and i am the assistant director for admissions and student affairs here at the school of marine science and i’m excited for a lot of reasons the first is that this is our very first informational webinar about the school and about our graduate program and vims so i can’t wait to tell everybody here in the audience about what’s going on and then also to let you all know is that you have a great panel that’s going to be coming coming to you later tonight to talk to you a bit about their experience here at vims and in their their whole journey as a marine scientist so i think you’ll all get a lot from it and it’ll be really informative and a whole host of different ways so as i said we have a great panel coming to you today i’ll be here i’ll be your host and moderator but we’ll also be joined tonight by dr elizabeth canuel um dr canuel is a vims chancellor professor in our department of physical sciences and liz’s research focuses on marine organic geochemistry and chemical oceanography we’re also going to be joined tonight by serena whittingham who is currently a vim’s phd student in our department of biological sciences serena right now is studying how environmental stress affects plant responses to herbivores and then finally dr vasgar nepal will be joining us vascar is a current venm’s postdoctoral research associate um but vascar also graduated from vims with his phd here this year and we’re very excited for him to be joining us again vascar graduated from our department of fishery science where he studied blue catfish in the chesapeake bay and the mechanics of their range expansion so i’ll let them do a lot better job of explaining what their research interests are later on in the session but before we get to that i’ll keep talking for a little bit just to give you some more insight into who we are as a school of marine science what we offer and just details in general that i can address the first is that as the school of marine science we are one of william and mary’s five graduate schools william mary is a globally recognized university and it allows us access to this much greater community in which we can have conversations and professionally develop and have a greater impact in the world with here at the school um well first william mary’s located in williamsburg virginia um and we at the school of marine science are located in gloucester point virginia at the virginia institute of marine science gloucester point is about 30 minutes away driving from main campus williamsburg however our location allows us to be directly on the york river um which is perfect for marine scientists because it means we have immediate access to the beach the water all of our aquaculture facilities our boat basin and just that lifestyle that marine scientists really appreciate here at the school of marine science we offer a master of arts a master of science and a phd in marine science our master of science and our phd are our typical research programs where you will be entering into the lab of your faculty advisor and you’ll be helping them with their research and you’ll be working on your own thesis or dissertation our master of arts is our newest degree and it’s our professional degree our master of arts is based on providing students with the comprehensive coursework but also a lot more interdisciplinary focus as well as an internship and capstone project to graduate so this program is really designed for students who are wanting to graduate and go into fields that are not being a professor or being a research scientist but instead wanting to be in public policy in business and outreach and education this is the degree that’s perfect for you all and hopefully by the end we’ll have talked a lot more about these different tracks here at vims we also have four different academic departments we have aquatic health sciences biological sciences fishery science and physical sciences and this diversity of academic focus has allowed the research that comes out of vins to be expansive from inland watersheds all the way to the open ocean however due to our location and our presence in virginia in the commonwealth we have an expertise in coastal and estuary science in the chesapeake bay however that expertise has not prevented us from sending yearly expeditions to the antarctic to study the coastal and ocean environments there or from traveling across the globe to help multiple nations or across the united states and focus on research that really has that broad impact one of the big reasons that we designed this series of webinars um that you will see throughout this fall is to really demystify some of the ideas that come into play when students are thinking about applying to marine science graduate programs in my role and as faculty and students we hear all sorts of things from applicants for why they they might not be able to apply or pursue this dream of theirs and so one thing we’re wanting to do in this session is to really talk to you all about that yes you can pursue your marine science interests and love um and one of the big things i hear in my role as overseeing admissions is that prospective students will come up to me and say i can’t apply to graduate school marine science because i did not pursue the correct major while i was an undergrad and i’m here to say that that’s not true most likely and to prove that i went back through three years worth of admitted student data to figure out exactly what majors our admitted students had pursued in their undergraduate and what i found is that yes we do have a lot of marine biology marine science and oceanography majors in our admitted students but we also have equal amounts of just biology graduates environmental science um and all of those things in between geology earth and oceanographic sciences we have even some more wild ones like environmental toxicology government human ecology small vessel operations physics so really there’s very few majors in the sciences that will prohibit you from entering into the field of marine science if you studied science and have the background and the interest and the drive you can come to a marine science program here at vims or wherever and be highly successful and also marine science as you can tell from our departments is very interdisciplinary just because you studied one thing doesn’t mean that that’s what you always have to be focusing on you can work with others and collaborate in a host of different ways to really have an impactful legacy on the marine science field the next thing i hear from applicants is that they did not pursue a degree in the right location to get into a school of marine science they think that because they didn’t go to undergraduate in california or in florida that they cannot get into marine science but that’s not true as well we accept students from all across the u.s and from international as well in our last three years of admitted student data here are all the points of where students have come to us from um and as you can see yes we cover the coasts the east coast the west coast the gulf coast puerto rico china but we also have plenty of landlocked states as well your iowa your illinois or indiana wisconsin minnesota and if i were to look back farther i would see plenty of data from students coming from all over so just because you didn’t pursue your degree and uh ocean and nearby an ocean does not does not mean that you won’t be a successful marine scientist so please don’t let that be prohibitive for you um i’d also be remiss right now to not talk a little bit about what an application into graduate school might look like and i can only speak about what the graduate application here at vims does look like and i can’t talk about what other applications look like but here our application is open right now and we’ll close it on january 6.All other applications um to different programs wherever you’re looking will have different close dates so please make sure that you’re aware of when that application closed and make sure all of those components are submitted and accounted for because that can be really prohibitive of your application um application components that we require is that by the time of your enrollment here you have to have completed your bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and at the time of submitting your application we need to have a transcript from you that shows the coursework that you’ve completed up to this point if you’re an international applicant will need a toefl or ielts score from everybody we’ll need either a resume or a curriculum vitae we also need an objective statement our programs have different objective statements and you can find those on our website or even on the application itself so make sure as you’re progressing you know which program you’re applying for and know the objective statement that you’re writing for and don’t complete an objective statement for a different program because we have those questions intentionally laid out for you and want to know that specific information for the program we also need three letters of recommendation so that can come from your faculty advisors from professional mentors anybody who can speak well about your science and professional preparation for advanced coursework in the sciences or marine science and then finally there’s an application fee of 54.However please take a look at our website and the application itself because we have a list of potential ways that you can request a fee waiver and if you meet any of those stipulations put in that request we would love to review it and hopefully provide you with that fee waiver because we would love to have you i’m in that way and then finally um after january 6 on about january 7th or january 8th i and the admissions committee will begin review of applications for um further review and then by about april 15th we hope to have sent out all notifications of our final decisions for admissions so please take a look at that website right there at the link that provides you with all of the information that you’ll need to complete an application as well as the portal to get to the application finally before i get it get over to our panelists i just want another big topic to be covered is that a lot of prospective students um or people who are interested in marine science think that a career in marine science is just being on a boat forever or being in the lab or being in the field and because of that they remove themselves from pursuing that dream but i’m here to tell you that marine science is a huge field and you can see from the busyness of this powerpoint slide that just trying to to quantify or qualify where you can go with a marine science degree is really hard because there’s so many different ways just from the photo here you can see that you can be in a boat on a in the lab or handling fish directly but you can also be spending your time in your career educating others working with kids working with outreach or you can be doing policy work if you’re very interested in working on capitol hill or in your government marine science is a great way to get into those ways um get into those channels what we’ve found from our graduates and this is just a very short list but our graduates are able to successfully go into careers in colleges and universities they can be a researcher teaching professor they can be a lab manager a research scientist in a lab or center or department at a university you can also go into that national government like i said you could work at noaa the national science foundation the u.s army corps of engineers the bureau of ocean energy management or you can even be a policy advisor for acting senator we’ve seen that it’s phenomenal to see if you want to go into state and local government you can be working for your state department efficient game or your state department of environmental quality or your department of natural resources or if you’re on a coastal state you can work for the marine resource commission all of those are available with a degree in marine science as i said you can also go into education outreach you can be a k-12 teacher an education coordinator at aquariums zoos or museums you can be a museum curator or you can work in environmental outreach and work directly with constituents or with academics you can also be a communications consultant if you’re really interested in communicating science to the um to society this is a great way to do it um there’s also for-profit industries like consulting firms natural resource management or even law firms great environmental law lawyers come with a marine science background and then in the not-for-profit world you can go to the nature conservancy the chesapeake bay foundation or local wetland boards just to name a few so with that i just covered a little bit of the basics but now i’m going to welcome our first panelist up to talk to you all and present a little bit more information about their story and you’ll hear from me all throughout the rest of it but hopefully that was informative and so for now i would like to invite serena whittingham to come to center screen and join me and serena as i said is a current vim’s phd student and right now she’s going gonna give you all a little bit of a talk about what it’s like to have walked in her shoes and what she does now so serena the floor is yours thanks john uh hi everyone thank you so much for being here my name is serena whittingham i’m starting the fourth year of my phd at vims um and happy to share with you all some of my journey and how i got here today so i grew up in a very small town in northern california about five hours from the coast um i originally thought about marine science because i really wanted to be a killer whale trainer i decided that that was the career for me um very quickly that transitioned to something that just had to do with the ocean i was fascinated by it and excited to pursue it and so as i went through high school i was still nowhere near a coast um but i started googling colleges that offered marine biology undergraduate degrees and i stumbled upon florida international university which is in miami so i moved across the country as soon as i graduated high school um and started this degree in marine biology and as what john just shared with everybody it should be obvious by now that the term marine science or marine biology is really all-encompassing and it covers a whole variety of different fields and research and careers so i entered into undergrad for this degree i really had no idea what it meant but i was excited to figure it out and extra excited to be near an ocean and from there i was taking some of my undergraduate classes and my ecology professor at the time was someone that i was really excited by his research seemed great and overall he was just a really enthusiastic and exciting educator and so i took a risk and i emailed him and said if you have anything that i can possibly do in your lab please let me do it and one thing led to another and i was able to start working in his lab as a volunteer at first and that ultimately transitioned into a paid position and i was working for a phd student at the time and we started working with jellyfish and i soon realized that that was not something i was interested in and fortunately she also was looking at plants so at the time it was sea grasses underwater plants um and i was really excited about aquatic botany and from there i was able to work in that lab for about three years of my undergraduate career and when i finished undergrad i was really excited about grad school at the time i was like yes i’m gonna go get a master’s degree this is what’s gonna happen unfortunately i applied to four different locations and i didn’t get in anywhere and at the time that was of course devastating um but i think one if you take anything away from the story that i’m sharing with you today i hope it’s that you know that your path doesn’t have to be linear you can try and knock it in and it can ultimately be the best thing that ever happened so i didn’t get into grad school i was totally devastated i ended up working in the lab a little bit more i served tables i worked at a grocery store um i did all sorts of odds and end jobs trying to make ends meet at the time and searching through google relentlessly and some people had already met trying to find a job and i ultimately landed at mote marine lab in sarasota florida where i worked briefly and then i met a different advisor and worked a different job and bounced from job to job until several years later i decided it was time to try grad school again so i applied and i got in for a master’s program at san francisco state university so i moved back to california um and pursued my master’s degree which turned out to be a wonderful experience and the time that i entered was the time that i needed to be there and again if there’s one thing you take away it’s seize your opportunities when they present themselves and definitely don’t be down on yourself if what you thought was supposed to happen didn’t happen right away so after i finished my master’s degree um i took another year or two off trying to figure out what i wanted to be when i grew up and if a phd was for me um i had ultimately been sifting through the vim’s website looking at faculty members and i stumbled on dr david johnson who is now my phd advisor and so i’ve been here for four years i really have loved every second of my experience at vims i’ll be here a bit longer as i continue to work on my dissertation but i’m happy to answer any questions after this is over and we meet the rest of our panelists and of course i’m thankful that you all are here so thanks john thank you serena i love that story i’m glad you’re here um so thank you serena for sharing and now i’d like to invite dr vaskar nepal to come up to the screen um and to share his story with us remember everybody vascar he’ll talk more about his story but he he graduated from ben’s with his phd this year nascar the screen’s yours all right um i’ll just start by saying that still i’m i’m a freshly uh minted uh postdoc here and it still feels weird to be called dr bhaskar nepal i’m like who is this guy they are talking about anyway um my name is bhaskar nepal and um as you can probably guess from my name i am from nepal which many of you probably know is not uh is a landlord country so it does not have oceans i did not grow up you know dreaming about wrestling sharks or whatever i did not do that um at heart i am still a mountain lover but here i am so my interest has always been in ecology mostly in aquatic ecology um so i came here to united states about 10 years ago as a transfer undergraduate student i was in illinois where i got my undergraduate degree and my master’s degrees when i was at as i was an undergraduate student at eastern illinois university i was just looking for jobs and the professor that happened to have some funds available was a fisheries professor and that’s what i did turns out i actually enjoyed working with fishes so over the next three or four years i worked with him in the lab and i really enjoyed it i thought this this i really like i’m going to make career out of it i i could do this so as i was looking for my uh for colleges universities for my phd degree i came across an advertisement from dr mary fabrizio who is a professor here at fims i saw that and i somehow disregarded it because marine science was not a big thing for me then my then advisor also forwarded it to me and said you should do this so i did and here i am so really what i’m trying to say here is that the reason i’m here is mainly because of my advisor and turns out marine science is a huge field and i’m here mostly for the fishes but um so don’t be don’t be alarmed or whatever if you do not feel like marine science is for you if you are interested in fishes do it if you are interested in toxicology do it you know um but i want to emphasize here that you will hear from a lot of people that they are here at vims a lot of students are here at vims because of their advisors because we have fantastic fantastic professors advisors here so i finished my phd degree this summer and here i am staying here for maybe another two years or so uh now as a postdoc and all of this is to emphasize that i really love it here that’s why i decided to stay here for another two years so um yeah that’s uh that’s what i have um yeah thank you vascar you’re not gonna talk about that you got to have your trip back to nepal to while you were here at vin’s in your last year sure um so yeah yeah as i was saying earlier at heart i’m still a mountain lover i grew up you know surrounded by mountains um so i really wanted to work with fishes freshwater fishes there are some opportunities here but i uh last year for example we got to got some funds together and we went back to nepal a few of us from united states collaborated with a few folks from nepal and conducted some research there so even though this institution is a marine science institute there are opportunities for you to work outside of typical marine science uh marine science realm so i was able to use that opportunity to work in freshwater environments in nepal so and there are other people that do similar sorts of things so do not be do not be hesitant to be here if even if you feel like you know the whole marine science thing is not for you if you are interested in something there might be ways to make it happen especially if you have a really good advisor which i was lucky to have and you can have too perfect thank you so much scott um now i’d like to invite dr elizabeth cannell to come up the screen um remember everybody that she’s a current vince chancellor professor and i’m very excited to hear about her journey here in marine science so liz all yours thanks so hi everyone i’m liz kanuel and as john just mentioned i’m a professor in the department of physical sciences at vims and um my area of expertise is chemical oceanography i want to just begin by echoing some of the same points that serena and vascar just met just made so the first thing relates to trying new things and you can never predict where an open door will take you so when that door opens to you take the take the opportunity um secondly they both touched on the idea of marine sciences as a community and the importance of the people that you meet and the relationships that you make um in some ways the people are part of the journey um it’s not all about the science and then um lastly i just wanted to say that pursuing a graduate degree in marine science is very exciting and rewarding and something i encourage you to do but it shouldn’t be your end game i’m reminded of the words of my former advisor chris martens who said a graduate degree is your ticket it’s the start to endless possibilities so um john asked me to tell you a little bit about my journey and i’m going to start with the end of my undergraduate program because this is probably where many of you are at right now um i went to a small college in massachusetts and i majored in chemistry and you may remember from the pie chart that john just showed you that chemistry was a very small piece of the pie but um nonetheless here i am in oceanography um when i graduated from college i had never taken a course in oceanography and i had no idea of how chemistry applied to the oceans the only thing that i knew was that i wanted to do um i wanted a career that would involve research so fresh out of out of college i applied for jobs as a lab tech and uh i actually uh interviewed for three very different positions so the first one was as a food chemist at ocean spray you know the company that makes cranberry juice the the second was an r d position at rayovac a company that makes batteries and the third was a position in the department of chemistry and geochemistry at the woods hole oceanographic institution so no surprises i think you know which one i chose i ended up working at the oceanographic institution for several years but it was relatively maybe two years into the position i was out at sea in the north pacific ocean you know just a lovely evening lots of stars and i just decided you know i just fell in love with oceanography and decided i wanted to be a chemical oceanographer so eventually i went to grad school and did my phd at unc and chapel hill and then i did a post-doc on at the u.s geological survey out in california and then i joined the faculty here at vims about 26 years ago so i’ve now been here for quite a long time and in some ways you may think well that’s not not very much of a journey but at the same time my 26 years here have been filled with many journeys i spent some time at the national science foundation as a program director i have worked and have students and colleagues from all over the world i’ve worked on a variety of really interesting projects everything from projects related to climate change and coastal ecosystems to food webs and contaminants and i even had a project studying whether algae could be used as biofuels and along the way i’ve also had a number of grad students who i stay in contact with many of them have gone on to positions at other universities and academic institutions but some are at federal agencies so places like noaa and the u.s geological survey and then others are in the private sector at environmental consulting companies in fact one of my former students is actually president of her own environmental consulting company so i just want to end with a a couple of takeaways before we move into the q a session so first is to uh not to underestimate the power of serendipity it’s important to plan but at the same time i would have never discovered the field of chemical oceanography if i hadn’t taken a chance and taken the position at the woods hole oceanographic institution that that totally was a game change changer so to speak and secondly i hope you’ve seen from our presentations that marine sciences is really a very broad field it involves different disciplines different combinations of disciplines and different research approaches there’s really no one size fits all in marine science and there’s just lots of different opportunities and different career paths so thank you for being with us tonight and we can um well we’ll return things to john for the next step thank you so much liz i really appreciate it and now i want to invite um serena and vascar to unmute and come back come back live with us to answer any questions we see that there’s already a fair number coming in so we really appreciate that and it’s really exciting um please take this time to ask the questions that really interest you um i think i’m going to lead off there’s a few already in both the chat in the q a talking about more questions about like what to study um and requirements for kind of coming in i just want to say that you do not need to have been a science major as we’ve said we have government majors who we’ve accepted but having a background of academics in the sciences is important because you will need to be completing coursework which i’m sure serena and vascar could talk a little bit about and liz since you assigned it but um talk about the coursework that is expected of students and it really does benefit our students to have some level of background in the chemistries in the biologies in the mathematics to make sure that you can be successful as you come forward but a marketing degree would be awesome we just need to see if you also have any scientific courses as well that could help you um go forward miguel so thank you for your question i’d love to to talk more um please contact me um a few other things maybe vascar serena or liz you could answer is some um mara asks how much prior lab experience do students entering the master of science or the phd program typically have yeah i would it’s quite variable like everything else we’re saying so um i’ve had students uh who you know maybe their their main lab experiences have been through courses that they took chemistry or biology labs um a lot of i would say a lot of our students have some research experience so they might have participated in the research experience for undergraduate uh program uh sometimes they’ve done a volunteer stint or an internship in a lab um sometimes they’ve been employed in a lab setting for some amount of time so there’s not again it’s not a one-size-fit fits-all type thing yeah i think i can only speak for myself i can’t speak for the other vims grad students but i was fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to volunteer in a lab and then ultimately work and i think everyone here as well as bim’s admissions recognizes that that opportunity may not be available to everyone and that’s okay so it is dependent on what’s available to you um i will say one of my big takeaways from undergrad is don’t be afraid of your professors so if you’re still in undergrad and you have the opportunity to talk to a professor that you’re really excited about um do it they are just as excited to talk to you um and are even more excited if you ask them what they study scientists love to talk about what they study so um i encourage you to not be afraid of your professors they can help yeah i agree um i have really not found anybody that has had like no experience prior to coming here but given given i say that you know i think the the the admissions committee and the reviewers realize that people have different circumstances and for example an incoming master’s student may not have as much experience as an incoming phd student so people already realize that but i will also add that if you have any choice at all you should get some experience because that will that will not only not only let you know whether you want to be in this field but also when you apply for it your application will look stronger so if you can change you know and if you can’t get more experience you should definitely do that yeah and i would say um for everybody who’s interested our final session the final webinar that we’re hosting on november 17th is all about the ins and outs of our application process um so i’ll have some more details about what our application look like but we’ll also have members of our admissions committee present and other faculty who can talk a little bit more about how they review students and how they make contact with students and really what makes strong applications whether it’s the coursework or the extracurriculars or anything like that so that’ll be a really great session to answer a lot of these questions so please make sure you stay tuned and there’s nothing better than heading into thanksgiving break with a long conversation about graduate applications another great question we have and i can direct this towards serena or vasquar or what kind of student organizations or activities are there here at vims scuba sailing etc sure um we have actually for an institution uh of the size that we are we have what 89 or 90 students something like that right so we are a pretty small institution in in terms of student body but we we definitely punch above our weight because there are just so many so many clubs so many activities professional development opportunities sale and parallel club we have just so many different kinds of clubs inter intramural activities um you know games we have we have all kinds of things i do not know about scuba diving but for some of these uh things that where you do not have clubs maybe there are definitely groups of people that are interested in doing it and they just form a group and then they go out and do it that’s that’s how i’ve usually seen it happen yeah i agree with everything vascar said there’s a ton of opportunities to be involved both professionally and personally um everything from plant propagule trades to uh let’s see hang outs at the beach to all sorts of things there’s a ton of activities um that you can be a part of so yeah and it like vascar said if they don’t if we don’t have it you can make it you know i’d also say one of the good things about being connected with william and mary and their other graduate schools and their undergraduate program is that our students have access to everything that william and mary provides so if our students are more interested in hanging out with law students or business students or education students there’s clubs and organizations that they can get and connect get connected with that way as well as all the other big events that happened on the way on mary campus we have another question uh directed once again more towards um serena or vascar but i think liz you could be able to jump in for the other side of it it’s what is the experience been like for finding an advisor at vims or even from your master’s degree and maybe liz the opposite side of as the advisor what has been like those initiations been like or how have you searched for students yeah so i can jump in on that um so both of my my master’s advisor and my current phd advisor are people that i did not know before i went to grad school um i was interested at the time when i went to my master’s i was interested in seagrasses so i hit my good friend google and was literally googling seagrass scientists um and i knew i kind of wanted to end up back on the west coast and that’s how it happened and i sent an initial email i sent a second initial email just to check up again um and made contact and that happened actually at both for both stages of my career so far um i will say vascar mentioned it earlier finding an advisor is so important and finding one that not only aligns with your research interests but that you also get along with um so you know when you’re looking for an advisor my phd advisor now says that it’s an interview on both sides so they’re interviewing you yes but you also should make sure that you get along with them that you enjoy the lab space um grad school can be all consuming and so you spend a lot of your personal and professional time with your lab group and so making sure you find an advisor that suits what you’re looking for is also really important um and of course after this if anyone has further follow-up questions i’m happy to answer them later on as well i agree with serena completely so as i said before i came here because of um because of my advisor she if she was in a freshwater institution maybe i would have ended up there you know um but finding a really really good advisor is is really important really important and as serena said it not only from the academic perspective but also from the emotional perspective especially if you are coming in as a phd student it takes a long time and you are going to you are going to struggle so uh the one advice that i will probably have for incoming students of any kind is to be mentally prepared for for things will fail um animals will die um things will break experiments will experiments will fail that’s just part of what it is but just be prepared you know and try your best to to find an advisor that that you think you will be able to work with over the next you know two four five six years that is just super important and talk with talk with people in wherever you are going to whoever your next advisor is going to be talk to people in the in their labs the students talk with them to see whether they whether you see any you know bad signs so yeah i encourage people to do that and maybe just i’ll just jump in briefly um so the the one thing to think about is applying to grad school is a little bit different than applying to an undergrad because students are supported by an advisor’s research program and that means supported in every way you know like their project may fall under the umbrella of that project resources from the advisors uh program will support the student um this you know the advisor will you know help the student network in the larger community and you know be a colleague to the student as well so it’s it’s really important to reach out to people whose work is of interest to you and you know just start maybe with some emails um like like serena mentioned she found people people’s names by googling you can ask a professor if there’s an area that you’re particularly interested in but i would try to reach out to people the the first outreach can be just uh you know to see whether they’re taking a student and maybe to set up a phone call or zoom call to find out more about their research program the those types of interactions are are really important because uh you want an advisor who’s going to be uh you know supportive of your research is also going to be able to advocate for you and ideally um you know it’s a really important relationship so somebody that you’ll want to work with not only during your graduate degree but someone you would maintain a relationship with beyond your graduate degree perfect thank you all we have another question that i think pairs really well in terms of our master of science and our phd relationship with their advisors and that’s about the financial situation so the question is like what does the what does the financial situation look like for a master’s student is there a cost of tuition are they paid half time or other so i was wondering if though you both were phd you pursued a master at one point so i’m wondering if you all could talk about kind of how you were financially supported and what ways you were financially supported both at your previous institution as well as now and then maybe liz you can talk about what ways you have financially supported or had students be financially supported um during your time um i’ll jump in yeah um so i had two very different situations between my masters and my phd as far as funding is concerned so san francisco state university where i did my master’s um is not required to pay their students in fact the majority of the students that go there are not paid a stipend and are responsible for coming up with their own tuition um i refused that model and i was told by my undergraduate advisor at the time to never go anywhere that would not pay me at least something and so fortunately the advisor i did my master’s with um had funding at the time and i had kind of brazenly told her that that was a requirement of mine um and so she was able to pay my stipend um of course masters and phd salaries are very modest stipends but they are plenty to live on um i have a roof over my head and i am able to eat so everything is fine there um and then as far as my phd is concerned vims um operates on a very different playing field as where i did my masters where they require that their students are supported both for tuition as well as a stipend so for me personally the first two years of my tuition and stipend were covered by our academic studies department at vims typically at least the first year is covered for most students if not all of them by academic studies as far as my remaining years it’s a mixture of funds that i’ve acquired myself through grant proposals as well as through funds that my advisor has come up with um again one of the very first conversations i had with my advisor before he became my advisor was how are we going to fund me and that is an okay question to ask worrying and having anxiety about where your money is coming from is not something that you should have on top of a rigorous graduate program and so having those conversations early with your advisor with your department with whoever will talk to you about it is really important and i highly encourage it it sounds like there’s a stigma around it but there shouldn’t be um you should be able to talk about what you need um i i agree with serena on that i definitely think that when you are getting your master’s degree or phd degree you are about to be an expert in the field so you you should be good they should pay you for it you know so i i really think that if you are getting into grad grad school i think i think you should find a way for them to pay you um at vims i have yet to hear of any student that was that had to find their own funding from one way or another the advisors and uh the institution sort of take care of you in a sense meaning that there they always find a way to fund you you don’t have to pay a tuition or um or your stipend there they will find a way you will probably have to work um with them to find that but you will not be paying your own tuition or stipend yeah and i’ll just add a couple of things just just to uh to broaden the landscape so some so students all all students advens are supported um but the way they’re supported um can take different forms and even can take different forms over the course of their degree program so typically incoming students are supported by the academic studies department for a one or two years depending on if they’re masters or phd students and then i would say most students end up being graduate research assistants where they basically are supported on the research grants of their advisors but um i’ve also had a number of students who’ve been able to get some funding on their own which is an excellent professional development opportunity so the national science foundation and various federal agencies like noaa and nasa department of energy all offer graduate fellowship programs they’re pretty competitive but i always encourage my students to to try for them and then the other way we often support students is as teaching assistants so we have an undergraduate minor in marine science and some of our students help out with those courses and are supported in in that way they might teach for a semester or even a couple of semesters and then we also have tas for our our incoming um graduate student courses so so there’s a few different cards to play um in in terms of the funding landscape yeah and i would reiterate that um students usually receive funding one way or another either through internal institutional funds um like a fellowship or through a teaching assistantship and they’ll work on the ware and mary campus to to instruct undergrads or on the vim’s campus being a teaching assistant for graduate students but also a lot of our students will go out and find their own fellowships and research grants i know vascar you received a sea grant your graduate research fellowship serena did you as well or okay so our students are usually fairly competitive as well on local and national grants to help provide funding for themselves and make sure that their cost of pursuing education are reduced and that’s for the for the master of science and for the phd our master of arts is a little bit different in that it’s a tuition-based model so the student would be expected to pay tuition however there are ways that we are offsetting those costs similarly with teaching assistantships or with internships here on campus or in institutions that we have partnerships with so if there’s questions about finances once again that’s a great question to bring to your faculty advisor of interest or to come to myself for the program director for the mma program to have that conversation about what your particular situation is like um liz i believe we have a question that’s your wheelhouse in the the chat um kate says that she’s they’re interested in using stable isotope analysis technique to help answer ecology-based questions related to baleen wells or large migratory pelagics is that a research area that you cover oh sort of i mean i’ve not i’ve i i definitely um have you i use stable isotope measurements in my research program and we have an isotope ratio mass spectrometer as uh part of our facilities at vims i haven’t studied whales and baleen but i i have used stable isotopes and other projects looking at at food webs and uh yeah food sources for organisms in in the marine environment so definitely uh that type of opportunity would would be available perfect thank you so much liz um chloe asks is there a particular focus within marine science that is growing or expanding the most currently i don’t know if i have the answer but i think one area of marine science that is really growing is sort of the interaction between the natural and the social sciences so um them we we do work all over the world and we do everything from uh seagrass and coastal wetland work to blue water oceanography in the southern ocean but um i think one of our strengths is really the working in coastal environments and coastal environments are places where the ocean touches people and where people touch the ocean and a lot of the um challenges we have in environmental science uh the solutions are not entirely based in the sciences that they also um require work in issues of policy and behavior and economics and just a lot of different social science aspects so so i think that melding of the social and natural sciences is really a growth area and a place of a lot of opportunity right now i agree with that i i think applied science is is definitely becoming bigger so that idea of experimentation and interpreting your results all the way to how it affects the people around you and the communities that are surrounding whatever ecosystem you’re working in i think is really important and i think we’re we’re working in that direction to have more outreach and community-based science in addition to uh pure empirical research i was going to say you know marine policy and marine economics that sort of thing but you know that’s what liz was talking about so so really that’s that’s i think where uh where a lot of expansion is happening it’s and it’s really important i’ll also emphasize um and serena sort of talked about this a little bit is that as scientists increasingly it is becoming more and more important to be sort of experts in communication science communication as well so i think that is that is a key factor where where a lot of expansion is happening that also reminds me that one of the one of the tips that i might have for students uh incoming students or students that are already in you know getting their master’s or phd degrees trying to get some experience in something outside of your own research field so maybe things like graphic design or communication anything like that those would actually come in really come in really handy you know even music can come in handy so so try to get exposure and experience in something that is completely unrelated to your research that will help not only with your career but also with keeping yourself sane during troubling times when you are in graduate school that’s fair i was also just going to add i think another really big emerging theme too is thinking about global change ecology and thinking about how climate change sea level rise temperature increases ocean acidification uh all of the things related to global change how those are impacting ecosystems and coastal communities i think is another large emerging theme thank you um we only have time for one more question so i’m sorry for everybody who i wasn’t able to get to but i want to take just the last minute to answer i’m so sorry if i really butcher your name but sorelus ruiz escobar they asked how diverse is the student body and faculty here at bims and does vince have any initiatives or such to increase type increased diversity and inclusion at our school based on our current student body we’re about 12 to 15 percent with students who would identify as either black african american latinx or as a student of color um unfortunately our faculty or none of our faculty would identify as um as a faculty of color or black african american or latinx that is something that we’re working on increasing our our search ability to to bring in and have that diversity presence in our faculty um but as for initiatives vince is doing really well um for our initiatives and trying to to build forward and make a lot of progress we have what’s our what we call our dive in committee which is focused on diversity and inclusion and they have a master plan that’s been institutionally worked over recently for increasing diversity of our hiring practices for our faculty and staff as well as for our recruitment methods for students and for prospective students and also our k-12 initiatives in the local commonwealth have been really targeted towards providing all of the communities of color and our black and latinx african-american communities in the commonwealth with more access to marine science than ever before so we do have a lot of initiatives going through and i’d be happy to speak more about that later on or provide you with contact to our diving committee and committee and we’d love to have that um but it’s now 8 o’clock so i just want to end by finally letting everybody know if you enjoyed what you saw tonight our website is right there up on the screen you can find us easily online or if you have more questions or want to have that communication please email either with questions about admissions in the application or email me directly at jm griffin i’m happy to talk and answer questions that i can and i know that our panelists would agree and they’re willing to to help answer more questions if you have them so please send them my way and i can be a great mediator for that you can also find us on social media you can find us on twitter at vim’s underscore news or you can find the school of marine science on twitter at vims underscores grad underscore dean or we’re on facebook and facebook vims also if you’re really passionate now about vims you can sign up for our e-tidings newsletter and this will come out monthly to let you know about all of the fun programs that are happening at vims all of our after hours and seminars um and there’s ways to access it here so please make sure you get connected that way and then finally i hope you all really enjoyed um the session tonight i’m really sorry that we couldn’t get to all your questions but feel free to email me i’m happy to answer and continue that or you can join us for the next three weeks um with new panels um of faculty and staff and next week we’ll be talking about why vims is a leader in marine science so you’ll get to hear more about who we are and what we do and the impact that we make as well as on november 12th you’ll be able to explore the new professional m.a degree with the program director and a few alumni who have agreed to take on students in that field and then finally part four heading into the thanksgiving break we’re going to have a deep dive into what the vims application looks like as well as advice that current faculty and our admissions committee have for creating a really strong application and what it is that they’re looking for in their process so i hope you all can join us later on we really appreciate you taking time during your evening to join us and also my panelists you all were wonderful thank you for sharing your journey and your insight we really appreciate it and with that i hope everybody has a good night and that you all stay safe and well during this time and i look forward to hopefully seeing you all again in a week thank you everybody

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