Holly Bamford

Class of '02

Current employer: Chief conservation officer for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Degree: Ph.D., Organic environmental chemistry, 2002

Lab: Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Adviser: Joel Baker 

What do you do in your current job? Holly works to advance the Foundation’s mission through the creation and implementation of a comprehensive conservation vision, strategy and a metrics-based evaluation system for NFWF’s grant-making programs. Previously, as assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS), Bamford directed the federal agency that provides coastal and ocean science-based solutions to address evolving economic, environmental, and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. 

How did your time at UMCES prepare you for your career? Holly credits her experience at UMCES—particularly the diversity of the program – with preparing her for her current job. “You have a very diversified portfolio of classes to choose from with small class sizes and the ability to go to the University of Maryland’s College Park campus and take the big classes too,” she said. 

Holly took classes in meteorology, engineering, chemistry, oceanography and other social sciences. “UMCES is a diversified set of people with unique backgrounds that produce better scientists because of this.” She also spent valuable time working in the Chesapeake Biological Lab, where her real-life, place-based science experience was applied both regionally and nationally. 

What’s your advice for current and prospective students? Holly advises students to find the right focus of study, as well as the right advisor to work with.  Her advisor, Dr. Joel Baker, taught her how to apply research to solving societal problems. “Dr. Baker was great at taking basic research and making that research applicable,” she said. Above all, though, Holly advises students to take advantage of all the great things UMCES has to offer, whether it’s presenting at local and national meetings, applying for fellowships or going on research vessels. Holly says: “Take advantage of all your interactions with faculty and students… It’s all about building a network of networks, and UMCES is a great place to do that.“