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One of SoMAS’ paramount objectives is to educate and train students to become the next generation of marine and atmospheric scientists, environmental resource managers, and citizens who possess a fundamental grasp of environmental issues and the choices that society faces in handling these issues.


The first undergraduate degree offered through SoMAS was a minor in marine sciences established in 1988. In 1992, an Oceanography and Environmental Studies track was established in the Multidisciplinary Studies undergraduate degree program. Also in that year, the Marine Sciences Research Center (MSRC) offered its first undergraduate major, as the University’s Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres (ITPA) was transferred to MSRC, bringing with it the Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology BS degree program. Over time, other undergraduate degree programs followed: a BA in Environmental Studies (2001) and a BS in Marine Biology and a BS in Marine Vertebrate Biology (both in 2005). The Environmental Studies major is designed for students anticipating a non-science career but one with a strong environmental bent, e.g., environmental journalism. The Marine Biology and Marine Vertebrate Biology degrees prepare students for a career in the sciences or environmental management. From May 1992 through December 2008, 174 students have graduated from SoMAS with an undergraduate degree.


MSRC’s first graduate degree program, the Marine Environmental Studies Program (MESP), was authorized in April 1970 and produced its first graduate in May 1971. The MESP program was a Masters of Science program designed for practicing professionals and recent college graduates with varied academic backgrounds. Its curriculum offered a strongly interdisciplinary examination of the diverse factors affecting the marine environment and was designed to prepare students for careers in the then-rapidly expanding fields of coastal management, environmental monitoring and protection and resource management. During the 1975-76 academic year, MSRC conducted an internal review of the MESP program. As a result of this review, the program name was changed to “Marine Environmental Sciences Program” and the program’s focus was shifted more towards hard science, with somewhat less emphasis being given to management and specific environmental problem-solving.

In April 1978, the Board of Trustees of the New York State Education Department approved MSRC’s Ph.D. program in coastal oceanography. The following September, the program was approved by New York Governor Hugh Carey. The Ph.D. program graduated its first two students in December, 1981.

In 2007, as MSRC was renamed the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, our graduate programs were re-titled to more properly reflect the unified educational experience within the school that is offered to both marine and atmospheric science students. At present, SoMAS offers both MS and Ph.D. degrees in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, with concentrations in either the marine or atmospheric sciences.

Since 1971, SoMAS graduate programs have produced 697 graduates; 574 received a MS degree, 184 received a Ph.D. and 61 received both degrees.  The alumni profiles below highlight a few of our graduates.


David Conover & MSRC Alumni honor former Dean & Director Jerry Schubel
Alumni Day 2004 at Stony Brook Manhattan

Mark Nepf (MS, 2017)

Mark Nepf was an MS student in the Dvarskas Lab of Environmental Economics from 2015 to 2017. During his time at SoMAS, he worked on a hedonic analysis of Suffolk County residential real estate, with a focus on the potential impact of coastal water clarity. By determining if improved water clarity could positively influence housing values, his project aimed to provide an economic measure of the benefits of coastal remediation.

After graduation, Mark accepted a position with Resources For The Future, where he is working on similar environmental valuation studies that look at the impacts of air pollution.  He credits his time spent at SoMAS helping him land on the job path he hoped for.

Emily Markowitz (BS, 2015)

EmilyMarkowitz_Profile1In the Fall of 2015, Emily Markowitz was a senior graduating with a major Marine Sciences with minors in Coastal Environmental Science, Geospatial Science and Theatre.  She was accepted into the Accelerated BS/MS degree program with Dr. Janet Nye in her Fisheries Ecology Lab. Emily is very excited to start doing real, meaningful research and contribute to the scientific community.

Emily had a variety of experiences during her time at Stony Brook.  She received the Stony Brook Mote Marine Lab Scholarship during the summer of 2015 and spent 10 weeks doing research in a snook release project at the Laboratory’s Aquaculture Park in Sarasota, Florida.  She served as the president of the Stony Brook Undergraduate Marine Science Club for two years, and lead the group on activities that included trawling and whale watching trips out of Southampton, seal walks, and volunteering with various organizations such as Coastal Steward and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Meadow Restoration Program. These organizations have also been included at events like Earthstock.  The club also participated in the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Bluefin Tuna Initiative and won a trip to meet with Pew and the head of NOAA fisheries, Sam Raunch, to talk about the Pew initiative. The club continues to provide our community with talks and public screenings of documentaries. For many of the students in the club, these events are their introduction to research and conservation issues in Marine Science.  In 2014, Emily also headed a major outreach program in which Marine Science Club members gave presentations (with valuable assistance from Dr. Larry Swanson) to two local middle schools about marine pollution and how it affects Long Island’s local biodiversity.

Emily’s experiences as a crew member on the R/V Seawolf, including trips to assist the New Jersey DEP in doing trawls and collecting data for their quarterly stock assessment program allowed her to see, first-hand, the distribution and density of our coastal waters and how a program like this works.

Emily’s undergraduate research experiences have allowed her in a number of labs on campus, including those of Drs. Janet Nye, Brad Peterson, and Joe Warren. While each lab pursued different questions and had different approaches and specialties, each experience provided her with greater insight into laboratory structure and methodology.  While studying abroad in New Zealand, she also worked for Dr. Steven Wing in his lab. Wing is exploring isotope markers in fish populations.

Everything that Emily learned at Stony Brook and all of the extracurricular activities she participated in made her a better candidate for the BS/MS accelerated program and better prepared to write her thesis and, she hopes, “to pursue my Ph.D”.

Emily encourages students to join a club and meet people and get involved with the programs and organizations that are around campus and off campus!  She says “that’s how you make opportunities, and build your experience! The way I got my first opportunity in a lab was by asking. Seek out professors and find out what they’re doing.  Pick out what interests you and offer your services.  Learn to code! Take classes in R or Matlab and learn ArcGIS.  These programs make it possible to do the analysis that makes research relevant.”

Tyler Abruzzo (MS, 2015)

Tyler AbruzzoIn 2015, Tyler Rose Abruzzo became the first student to graduate from the combined BS and MS program at SoMAS, a program designed to allow high achieving undergraduates to use up to 12 credits of course work towards both their undergraduate and graduate degrees. For her Master’s thesis, Tyler studied the temporal and spatial dynamics of the finfish and macro-invertebrate community in the Peconic Bay Estuary under the joint direction of Professors Dr. Robert Cerrato and Dr. Michael Frisk. She was also involved in sampling finfish, macro-invertebrates and sediment in the Great South Bay and Mill Neck Creek. According to Tyler, “My experiences and field work at SoMAS have been not only knowledgeable but fun and unforgettable. My professors and peers have left a lasting impression on me.”

Tyler went directly from graduating at Stony Brook to her new position as a Staff Scientist at H2M Architects & Engineers, where she will be working on delineating wetlands throughout Long Island for construction projects as a consultant. She will also be acquiring environmental permits for clients for proposed construction work, as well as working with Townships for project approval. According to Tyler, “my degree at Stony Brook gave me a broad background in general ecology, therefore I was able to find a company that will help start my career as a biological environmental consultant.”

Her advice to other students is to take advantage of the integrated BS/MS program at SoMAS and to take classes that might be outside your comfort zone to gain knowledge on other subjects. She says “You’ll never know what type of experience/knowledge an employer might be looking for. Therefore, the more knowledge you have about different subjects and the more field techniques you learn will better your chances of landing a job. She describes the experience of the BS and MS program as being ”…a smooth transition from being an undergraduate to a graduate. I knew most of the faculty and their research at SoMAS from my undergraduate classes which made finding an adviser who would support the type of research I wanted to do for my Masters much easier.”

Michael Colbert (BS, 2015)

Everyone talks about the weather, but Michael Colbert has more than a casual interest in that topic — he studied it at Stony Brook University.  To be sure, the atmospheric and oceanic sciences major can’t remember a time when he wasn’t passionate about the weather.  “My mother says that as a baby, there were times when I wouldn’t fall asleep unless she took me outside to look up at the sky first,” Michael said.

When he was in elementary school, Michael used writing assignments as an opportunity to report on atmospheric conditions. “What was the weatherman predicting for tomorrow? How long were the icicles hanging off my roof? How strong were the winds last night?”

Michael Colbert uses the School of Journalism’s green screen for a weather forecast

Michael said that growing up in a waterfront home on the Neguntatogue Creek in Lindenhurst, New York — which gave him a front-row seat to view nature’s full force — influenced his decision to pursue atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

“On the coast, you often see precipitation transition from snow to sleet to rain, and then back the other way as cold air comes in at the end of a storm. You also get to see coastal flooding and experience more intense winds found near the ocean,” he said. “During the warm season, the sea breeze can trigger thunderstorms, and that happens to be the topic of my Honors College senior research project — what are the factors that allow some sea breeze boundaries to trigger thunderstorms?”

The Internet has made it easy for Michael to watch the weather unfold minute by minute on satellite and radar. As early as his freshman year in high school, he paid special attention to weather trends, which led to him posting forecasts on Facebook.

When Michael arrived at Stony Brook, he created SBUWeather, a Facebook page managed by the Meteorology Club, which provides forecasts to more than 700 students, staff and faculty on campus and to surrounding communities.  Posting through social media helped provide more exposure for the Stony Brook Meteorology Club which enabled it to grow its current membership to 40 weather buffs. After he was elected president, he and his expanded club created a Web page on which they post forecasts.

Under Michael’s leadership, the club made its debut at the Involvement Fair, wearing T-shirts the members created.  Feeding on a growing interest in the club, Michael began organizing field trips to regional conferences; the National Weather Service in Upton, New York; and local news stations to observe live forecasts. In 2013 “we visited ABC in New York City, and” in fall 2014 “we took a trip to News 12,” he said.  To further increase its exposure, Michael initiated the club’s participation in Earthstock the past two years. The club competed in the 2014 Roth Regatta with a boat named “Hurricane Force.” Regatta.

In 2014 Michael served an internship at the Upton National Weather Service facility, where he collected data using instruments called radiosondes, which are battery-powered devices carried into the atmosphere that transmit findings by radio to a ground receiver. He is also the proud recipient of the Timothy Magnussen Memorial Scholarship for undergraduate students majoring in atmospheric sciences.  During the summer of 2014, he conducted research at Colorado State University, exploring the volume of hail in thunderstorms and associated lightning flash rates. These findings were presented at the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ, in January 2015.

Michael helped coordinate a joint effort with the School of Journalism to provide broadcast experience to atmospheric and oceanic science majors.

“Even though the National Weather Service is my first choice to start my career path, every time I’m in a newsroom I get an overwhelming feeling of excitement, so I hope I get that opportunity to do that at some point in my life,” he said.  Michael started his graduate studies at Penn State in the fall of 2015.

“The weather is something that affects everyone every day. It never stops changing, so I can never stop watching it,” he said.

From Michael Colbert ’15 Is Doing Something About the Weather by Glenn Jochum; photo by John Griffin

Danica Warns (MA, 2015)

According to Danica Warns, “the Marine Conservation and Policy program is a very unique and fast-track graduate program that helped launch my career in environmental conservation.”   She appreciated the flexibility to select the classes she wanted to take and how she could “design (her) capstone project to match (her) career goals” that allowed her “to tailor the program to get the most out of my degree.” As she knew she was interested in a career in environmental outreach, Danica chose to take several courses in the Alda Center for Communicating Science.  The classes “were so valuable and enhanced my communication skills greatly,” she says.

Danica highlights the benefits of the program:

If it weren’t for the flexibility of this program, it would have been difficult for me to meet my goals in such a short period of time. The strong background in current marine conservation issues and communication skills I learned put me in a competitive position for pursuing a career in environmental outreach.

She credits the MCP program for helping her get to her current position, working for the NYC Parks Department engaging volunteers in wetland restoration projects.

Christopher Martinez (PhD, 2014)


Christopher Martinez may be a marine biologist from California, but he didn’t grow up near the ocean. Visalia, his hometown, is a small farming city in the San Joaquin Valley. His family of migrant workers traveled the West picking crops. “Because of their hard work, I was able to pursue my dream,” said Christopher, who earned his PhD in 2014.

That dream was to study biology. Animals and insects always interested Christopher, but when he made the three-and-half-hour trip to the ocean, “I was fascinated by the diversity of ocean life.”

As an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Barbara, his passion for marine sciences solidified. Christopher became research diver certified and was listed as co-author of a study, published in 2011 in Marine Biology, for his research in French Polynesia.

When Christopher applied to the graduate program at Stony Brook, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) awarded him a Turner Fellowship.

The W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship helps qualified underrepresented graduate students seeking certain degrees. Since 1987, the Fellowship has graduated more than 400 degree recipients.

The Center for Inclusive Education (CIE), which provides Turner Fellowship funding, became Christopher’s second home. “The CIE offered me a support system and a sense of family,” he said. After losing outside funding, the CIE helped Christopher pay for flounder movement pattern research in Long Island bays.

Michael Frisk, associate professor in SoMAS and Christopher’s PhD advisor, helped him redirect his research. “Mike told me to design a project that truly reflected my academic interests,” said Christopher.

After studying geometric morphometrics with Distinguished Professor emeritus F. James Rohlf, Christopher pursued ecological morphology of skates and rays and spatial modeling of marine communities in the Northwest Atlantic with a grant Frisk helped him secure.

“Chris was a very bright, dedicated student,” said Frisk. “He read the literature across disciplines and developed and applied modeling methods to quantify fish communities.”

These skills helped Christopher develop his postdoctoral research proposal and earn dual fellowships with the American Museum of Natural History, where he will take advantage of the Museum’s very large fish collection.

Christopher credits much of his success to Stony Brook. “The overall level of research among faculty and graduate students at Stony Brook is really impressive,” said Christopher. “I’ve had many opportunities at Stony Brook because of its proximity to New York City, specifically the Museum of Natural History.”

Sarah Schaefer (MA, 2013)

Sarah Schaefer is currently the Program Coordinator for the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP). In this job she facilitates the Peconic Estuary watershed protection and restoration projects, monitoring and research. She also assists municipalities and not-for-profits to form partnerships, secure funding and plan and implement water quality improvement and habitat restoration projects. The PEP is a partnership comprised of stakeholders within the estuary. The program is responsible for creating and implementing a management plan to protect the estuary.

The Peconic Estuary is one of twenty-eight (28) estuaries in the National Estuary Program (NEP), administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under the auspices of Sec. 320 of the Clean Water Act to protect and preserve nationally significant estuaries which are threatened by pollution, development, or overuse. The Peconic Estuary was accepted into the program as an “estuary of national significance” in 1992 after citizen groups formed in response to the Brown Tide algal bloom events in the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s. At that time, it became the 20th National Estuary Program in the country.

The Peconic Estuary is located between the North and South Forks of Long Island, and consists of over one-hundred (100) harbors, embayments and tributaries which span more than 125,000 acres of land and 158,000 acres of surface water.

Sarah offers the following advice to incoming students:

“Stay open to all possibilities, whether it be lab work, field work, research etc. All experiences will give you some skill that will be valuable down the road. Make the most out of whatever opportunities you are given and work hard. Communication skills and ArcGIS experience are valuable strengths- take advantage of the chances you get to learn and practice these skills.”

 Sarah believes that the Marine Conservation and Policy (MCP) Program prepares students for real world careers because you are provided experience in many different areas like environmental/marine policy, marine research, field work, communicating science. The program provides the experience to be competitive for marine conservation and policy programs. She says that “everyone in my graduating class had slightly different interests and the program gave everyone the freedom to pursue those interests.

Interviewed by MCP student Whitney Leigh


Kenneth Lang (MA, 2013)

kennethlang-ovioowFormer Marine Conservation and Policy Masters student Kenneth Lang (fall 2013) was recently selected for the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The competitive fellowship recruits students from 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide to complete a one year paid fellowship in either the legislative or executive branch of the U.S. government in Washington D.C. Ken’s placement in the program is with NOAA’s International Affairs Office where he will focus on research in Europe, Russia, and the Arctic beginning in February.

While in Stony Brook’s Marine Conservation and Policy program, Lang completed an internship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Programme, where he studied three dozen transboundary water environmental remediation projects. Lang felt that his Knauss placement was a perfect fit with the skills and knowledge he obtained during his time in the MCP program.

“My internship taught me a great deal, and the MCP program was the perfect leader into the Knauss fellowship,” said Lang. “You get experience in both science and policy in the MCP program.”

The Knauss Fellowship, which started nearly 30 years ago, provides an excellent opportunity for students interested in Marine Policy to kickstart their careers and obtain relevant, high-level experience in the nation’s capital. According to Professor Anne McElroy, former director of NY Sea Grant and current Graduate Program Director as SoMAS, “there is no better opportunity than the Knauss Fellowship for getting first-hand experience in how policy is made or establishing a professional network within the environmental management community.”

Lang, whose 2014 class includes the 1000th fellow to enter the program, has this advice to other MCP students aiming to follow his lead: “Graduate students hold a privileged status in society. Use that status,” says Lang, “You get where you want to go by talking to other people.”

Owen Doherty (PhD, 2012)

Owen Doherty with his wife and fellow SoMAS alum Anne Cooper Doherty (Ph.D. 2013)

Owen Doherty with his wife and fellow SoMAS alum Anne Cooper Doherty (Ph.D. 2013)

Owen Doherty earned his PhD from Stony Brook in December 2012, working on mineral dust transport. He, Nicole Riemer, Sultan Hameed and Kirk Cochran successfully identified a new paradigm that explained variability and loadings and sources of  mineral dust blowing off Africa. He then went on to post-doc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. According to Owen, “life as an academic post-doc is sort of the pinnacle. You get to spend almost all of your time deep into a research project, learning new things and exploring your ideas in depth.”

In addition to conducting research while at SoMAS Owen helped teach a number of courses on a wide range of topics including global environmental problems, thermodynamics, remote sensing, MATLAB and data analysis. “Kirk Cochran and Anne McElroy taught me how to develop, manage and teach a large overview course. I owe them a lot for showing me the ropes.” He also developed leadership skills at Stony Brook “as head of Friday Beers, to head of the softball team and ultimately president of the grad club and a member of the Dean search committee.”

Owen’s data analysis background and leadership skills have continued to serve him well. He recently started up a consulting firm called Eagle Rock Analytics. He admits that starting your own business is “both daunting and exciting.” He gets to incorporate his wide range of skills to brainstorms new project ideas, collaborate with others, do science and data analysis every day. “The future of science is multidisciplinary studies, so folks who have a wide breath of knowledge to work from are at an advantage.”

Owen’s advice for students at SoMAS are entrepreneurial in spirit as he puts the onus on individuals to guide their own learning, rather than always relying on professors to lead the way. “Taking courses in grad school is like riding a bike with training wheels — take off the training wheels, read a paper, set up an experiment and teach yourself!”

Cassie Bauer (MS, 2012)

Cassie Bauer received her BS and MS from SoMAS in 2009 and 2012 respectively. Her  thesis research involved the physical processes that contribute to localized, seasonal hypoxic conditions in the bottom waters of Smithtown Bay, Long Island Sound.

According to Cassie, “My thesis work gave me experience doing research in the Sound, understanding the Sound’s water quality issues, and developing relationships with researchers and environmental groups. This directly prepared me for a job as the Long Island Sound Study Coordinator”

Cassie works with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation as the Long Island Sound Study Coordinator. This is a bi-state partnership to restore and protect the Long Island Sound where her job responsibilities include co-chairing technical work groups, attending meetings, managing grants, collecting data on environmental indicators, tracking state activities, and writing reports, newsletters, and management plans. According to Cassie, “I also get to interact with many local environmental organizations and help out with various educational and outreach events, which I think is the most exciting aspect of my job.”

Her advice to incoming and current students is to “take advantage of the knowledgeable and friendly faculty and staff and the excellent resources SoMAS has to offer.”

Elizabeth Rogers (MA, 2012)

In her current role as Fire Island National Seashore’s Public Affairs Specialist, Elizabeth manage press relations, digital media, and lead science communications efforts. She works closely with experts from all divisions within the National Park Service and with researchers and partners to develop communications products for a variety of audiences.

Elizabeth offers the following advice for incoming MCP students:

“Get experience. Shadow, volunteer, intern, or work at an organization or in a position that interests you. There is no better way to find your way. Through these experiences you are bound to meet someone who can help connect you to the next best step in your career. So be open to every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where it may lead you!”

Elizabeth says that she “was fortunate enough to be involved in a student training program with the National Park Service during my time at SoMAS.” While managing my studies and a full-time job was not easy, the two programs prepared her well for the work she does now.

Interviewed by MCP student Whitney Leigh

Jake LaBelle (MA, 2012)

jakelabelle-1zxawumJake LaBelle, a graduate of the Marine Conservation and Policy (MCP) Master’s program, has found career success at the New York Seascape.

The New York Seascape, a program operated through the Wildlife Conservation Society, seeks to protect habitat and species that rely on New York’s coastal waters. They use a combination of research, education, and policy to achieve this goal. LaBelle works as research coordinator through New York Seascape, a position that helps him engage in his true passion: sharks.

“Getting to live in New York and do fieldwork with sharks is pretty incredible,” says Labelle, “I’ve always loved sharks.”

LaBelle got involved with New York Seascape by doing an internship with them during his time working on his MCP degree. He got involved in more and more projects until he became indispensable to the organization, at which point he was offered a job.

Even before that, LaBelle spent time working with sharks. Prior to attending Stony Brook University, he volunteered at the Bimini Biological Field Station. The Field Station gathers data on sharks in the Bahamas, which is then utilized by universities and professors, including SoMAS professor Dr. Demian Chapman, who does genetic studies on the samples gathered there.

These experiences were key for LaBelle, who came from non-scientific background. His undergraduate degree was in International Affairs. A lot of his success came from talking to people involved in the field, who knew some way he could get involved. This included his work in Bimini, and other places as well.

“I always loved aquariums and marine biology, and started by volunteering at the National Zoo,” states LaBelle.

Currently, LaBelle is working on research on Sand Tiger and Shortfin Mako sharks in the Great South Bay. By tracking these sharks, he is hoping to get more information to construct maps of essential habitat for these species. LaBelle feels that GIS courses taken as an MCP student were indispensable to this work, and that these and other experiences as an MCP student will continue to be useful in his chosen career path.

Laura Picariello (MA, 2012)

laurapicariello-1q6vppgLaura Picariello, former MCP student, is busy pursuing a career in Louisiana with the Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries, part of the Audubon Nature Institute. As a Research Assistant working with a wide variety of audiences, she says the Marine Conservation and Policy program really helped her find her career.

“You deal with such a wide range of issues in the program,” says Picariello, “it’s not so specialized.”

The fact that the program focuses not only on science coursework, but communication, environmental law, and policy creates an environment where students can about a vast amount of topics in a short amount of time. This leaves them better prepared to find a career, maybe not even one they had expected.

“This opportunity came up. It was not the specific thing I was looking for,” state Picariello, “But I’m thrilled to be here. I’m loving where I’m at, working in the transition between fisheries and management.”

Picariello was traditionally trained as a musician, but found that she couldn’t live away from the ocean. She choose the Marine Conservation and Policy program in order to change her career pathway and improve her job satisfaction. What other advice does she have for current or prospective students wishing to do the same?

“We all had our ideas about where we wanted to go,” she says, “but don’t limit yourself in where you want to go. Being open leads you to interesting places.”

Christopher Lang (MA, 2012)

clang-27apqtvChristopher Lang, a graduate of the Marine Conservation and Policy (MCP) Master’s Program, is using his degree to make a difference in environmental policy.

Lang, who graduated from the MCP program in 2012, works as a Legislative Fellow in the New York Senate. The prestigious Legislative Fellowship Program, which accepts graduate students from a variety of programs, pairs students with New York Senators to do legislative research and write policy. Lang is working with Senator Catharine Young whose work in agriculture and environmental policy is a good match for Lang’s interests and abilities.

Lang hopes to focus on aquaculture policy during his time in the New York Senate, and attributes much of his professional success to the MCP program and to the courses he took during his time at Stony Brook University.

“I definitely wouldn’t be in a position to get this job without the MCP program,” says Lang.

The MCP program allows students to tailor their degree, offering courses in environmental law and policy, science communication, and other more traditional science-based conservation classes. After students complete their coursework, they complete a capstone project or internship, where they apply the skills developed in classes to real-life scenarios in the workplace. Lang chose to participate in an internship with the Mystic Aquarium as an educator, a position that gave him some extra experience in communication. “I never dreamed this was where it would take me. Use the diversity of the program to your advantage,” Lang advises current and prospective students.

Lang certainly has done that. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Providence College, he took Environmental Law classes as an MCP student, which helped him understand and become familiar with court and law documents. However, Lang believes the science communication courses were the most beneficial for him.

“Those courses can prepare you for anything. I had a lot of fun in my improvisation course, and learned so much as well,” states Lang.

Looking forward, Lang plans to use the connections and skills he gains as a Legislative Fellow to his advantage in future work with environmental policy, either in a state or federal agency or in a private firm.

John Holden (BS, 2011)

John Holden aboard a lobster boat in Long Island Sound, bespattered with mud but still smiling.

John Holden aboard a lobster boat in Long Island Sound, bespattered with mud but still smiling.

John transferred to Stony Brook-Southampton campus for the fall 2007 semester as a Marine Science major and graduated in spring 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree. As an undergraduate, he took a suite of marine-related courses – all of Physical, Biological, and Coastal Oceanography, as well as Long Island Marine Habitats and Experimental Marine Biology. These experiential classes gave John the opportunity to get out on the water and gain practical experience to compliment what he was learning in the traditional classroom setting.

While a student, John also became involved in a number of research projects. In 2010, he was an intern in Dr. Chris Gobler’s lab at Southampton working on mesocosm experiments pertaining to the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Project (ShiRP). During that summer, he also participated on the Southampton Blue Oyster Project (S-BOP), where he worked for Drs. Kurt Bretsch and Joe Warren monitoring oyster growth and water quality conditions at several locations within the Shinnecock and Peconic Bays. After graduation, he continued working as a technician on the ShiRP project, as well as crewing on the research vessels out of the SoMAS Southampton Marine Station and on SoMAS’s R/V Seawolf out of Port Jefferson.

John is currently working for the Marine Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County as a fisheries technician. He is working on two different projects. John works on the lobster pot retrieval project in Long Island Sound, working with local fishermen to retrieve derelict lobster pots. The second project involves testing new fishing gear aimed at reducing by-catch. He has worked on ocean trawlers testing out new gear for the summer flounder fishery aimed at reducing sea turtle by-catch, as well as new gear for the squid fishery.

John reflects on his time at SoMAS: “From SoMAS I have learned the importance of working well with others as a team, seeing something all the way through, to finish what is started, and to do a thorough job not just for myself but for others as well.”

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