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Congratulations to HPL's 2021 Graduates!

July 7, 2021

Graduating from the Horn Point Laboratory - University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science graduate program is a major accomplishment.  Four students received their Masters at the virtual graduation ceremony held May 27, 2021.  The Horn Point Lab is proud of each graduate’s research and is grateful for their contributions to the Horn Point Lab community. 

We asked our graduates a few questions to help readers appreciate their journey to this point and their goals as they venture forward.

Miles Charles Bolton

Program of study: Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Earth and Oceans Systems

Advisor: Dr. Cindy Palinkas

Thesis: Evaluating feedbacks between vegetation and sediment dynamics in submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds and created marshes of living shorelines in Chesapeake Bay 

Tell us about your work/research at HPL: what question(s) are you trying to answer?      Though the research was focused on studying sediment in restored coastal habitats I had to utilize chemical procedures, learn to drive a boat, field work procedures, build a wordpress blog, learn coding, etc.

What is your favorite thing about your work:     My favorite part about my research is the inherently multifaceted nature of my work.

What brought you to the Horn Point Laboratory?     I was drawn to HPL because I loved the fact that the entire facility is focused on marine and coastal research. Many of the other programs I looked at either had small marine/coastal departments or focused on research that I felt wasn’t as applicable and relevant in regard to modern environmental issues as HPL’s research was.

Who have been your role models or mentor?      I looked up to my thesis committee members Cindy Palinkas, Lori Staver, and Cassie Gurbisz as they’re all incredibly impressive, smart, insightful scientists. Working with scientists of their caliber, I learned a lot about what it takes to be a professional scientist and how to effectively time manage all the various components of our research.

What do you do for fun?      I have a myriad of hobbies these days. Since moving back to NYC I’ve been coaching a 16 yr old baseball team and playing for an adult league team; I’ve been looking to make a baseball comeback for a few years so it feels amazing to be back pitching and coaching pitching. I also enjoy playing guitar, creative writing, and organizing art shows/concerts in Brooklyn.

What is your advice for someone considering estuarine/ocean science for their academic/professional career?      Above all, use your natural curiosity and relationship to the coastline to inform how you want to be involved. Environmental scientists are at their best when connecting their childhood passions to their professional research skills.

If you have had some time since your defense, what have you been doing since you finished your degree?      Since defending my thesis, I’ve been simultaneously applying to coastal positions while developing an organization I founded with three other people during the pandemic called AllInOneCollective. AllInOneCollective is an organization that manages and repurposes NYC landmarked mansions, buildings, churches for artists, musicians, environmentalists, and young professionals.

What is one way you hope to make a positive impact with your degree?    I want to devote my career towards coastal habitat restoration in New York, focusing on New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, and Jamaica Bay.

Pinky Liau

Program of Study: Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Molecular Science and Technology

Advisor: Dr. Sairah Malkin

Thesis: Cable bacteria and their microbial associations in lab-Incubated sediment from Chesapeake Bay

Tell us about your work/research at HPL: what question(s) are you trying to answer?     I studied cable bacteria and their microbial associations for my master’s thesis. Using a manipulative sediment incubation experiment, I asked whether certain microbial species might interact with cable bacteria which can provide more insight into potential interspecies relationships. Additionally, I was interested to see whether cable bacteria can act as ecosystem engineers in the sediment.

What is your favorite thing about your work?     My favorite thing about my work is plotting up my results and seeing the data in well-organized figures.

What brought you to the Horn Point Laboratory?      I came to HPL to study microbial ecology with my advisor, Dr. Malkin. The close-knit community at a smaller campus and friendliness was also a deciding factor for me.

Who have been your role models or mentors?     During graduate school, I had so many mentors that helped me cross the finish line. My advisor, everyone on my committee as well as my graduate school friends all taught me something new and were super encouraging when I hit some obstacles.

What do you do for fun?     I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and camping! One of my favorite moments is eating a good meal at camp or having a good post-hike meal.

What is your advice for someone considering estuarine/ocean science for their academic/professional career?    Pursue your interests and do what you love doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, that’s how you’ll learn.

If you have had some time since your defense, what have you been doing since you finished your degree?     Since my defense, I have been searching for jobs and I am excited to open a new chapter in my life.

What is one way you hope to make a positive impact with your degree?     I hope my research results will spark new research questions that other students and scientists can pursue.

Morgan O’Hara Ross

Program of Study: Marine Estuarine and Environmental Sciences/Earth and Ocean Systems

Advisor: Dr.Judith M. O’Neil

Thesis: Nutrients, chlorophyll and emergent harmful algal bloom species in coastal waters of Assateague Island National  Seashore 

Tell us about your work/research at HPL: what question(s) are you trying to answer?     My research focuses on harmful algal bloom species, nutrients and water quality in Maryland’s coastal waters. More specifically, my research addresses how nutrient and harmful algal bloom species concentrations change with respect to season and anthropogenic influences. 

What is your favorite thing about your work?    My favorite thing about my work is going out on the RV Rachel Carson and collecting field data. 

What brought you to the Horn Point Lab?       I came to HPL because I wanted to be closer to some of my family members in Maryland and to experience life on the east coast. 

Who have been your role models or mentors?      My advisor, Dr. Judith M. O’Neil, has been an excellent role model and mentor over the last three years. My committee members, Dr. Jamie Pierson and Dr. Bill Dennison have always kept me going in the right direction. Additionally, Dr. Jacob Cram and Dr. Klaus Huebert have set an amazing example of how to go above and beyond to help students and peers.  

What do you do for fun?     For fun I like to hike, kayak and bake sweets for my friends and family!

What is your advice for someone considering estuarine/ocean science for their academic/professional career?      My advice for someone considering an estuarine/ocean science career is to spend time trying field work, lab work, and computer work to get a base understanding of all aspects of the field. 

If you have had some time since your defense, what have you been doing since you finished your degree?     Since I finished my defense I have been volunteering as a coach for the University of Maryland Gymnastics team, spending time outside, and figuring out what’s next for me!

What is one way you hope to make a positive impact with your degree?     I hope that with my degree I am able to be an excellent environmental steward and inspire others to protect our ecosystems.