Graduate student Chelsea Fowler receives 2024 Student Service Award

June 3, 2024
Chelsea and her advisor, Louis Plough, on the Patapsco river in Baltimore, installing an automatic water sampling device for eDNA surveillance of River herring.

Chelsea Fowler, a graduate student based at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Horn Point Laboratory (HPL) in Cambridge, has been awarded the 2024 Student Service Award for the provision of outstanding service to the lab, UMCES and the broader community, serving in an array of mentorship, service and leadership roles.

Fowler, who recently completed her master’s degree and is staying on to pursue a Ph.D., is recognized not only for her tireless efforts to create a welcoming student environment, but for diving into numerous outreach opportunities with gusto.

"I was very impressed with the Science Saturday event that Chelsea organized as Co-Chair of the Horn Point Chapter of the Society for Women in Marine Science this past fall at our Environmental Education Center," said Judith O’Neil, UMCES Research Professor. "That was a weekend event for K-12 students from the local community. Chelsea helped organize fellow grad students to run the event completely on their own, organizing age-appropriate STEM activities for each group and organizing the logistics down to safety, food, and dealing with parents. She was incredibly organized and the event went off without a hitch. Chelsea is a real asset to the Horn Point Community."

Fowler has been conducting research under the tutelage of her advisor, UMCES Professor Louis Plough, on the efficacy of new environmental DNA monitoring techniques of important fish populations. Outside of the lab, she served as a student representative for the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences Graduate Program and was a liaison for Maryland Sea Grant Research Experiences for Undergraduates during the summer of 2022. Chelsea is a regular public tour leader for Horn Point and serves as the student representative on the new ad-hoc Environmental Education Committee, helping to develop new strategies and opportunities for youth in the Cambridge community. She was also involved in the 2022 HPL Open House for the community where she organized baked good sales, science displays, and designed the logo for the event t-shirts.

"While Chelsea has really excelled in her research, her commitment to service, education, leadership and engagement of diverse populations across Horn Point lab, UMCES and the region has been truly remarkable," said Plough. "Chelsea has made service, outreach and science communication a consistent priority since arriving at UMCES and has found opportunities to contribute in ways big and small at HPL."

Outside of UMCES, Chelsea is an active member of the American Fisheries Society (local and national chapter) and she serves as the UMCES delegate to the Maryland PIRG Student Climate Action Coalition. Fowler also has a passion for art and design and was a winner of the University System of Maryland COVID-19 Public Awareness Campaign Competition with her comic, The Vaccination Crustacean, which featured a blue crab communicating how to stay safe waiting for the vaccine while experiencing COVID fatigue.

"Since her arrival at UMCES in 2020, Chelsea has been ever-present, active and deeply invested in numerous facets of HPL/UMCES science, education and community life, and our campuses are so much better for it," Plough said. "Her positive attitude and passion for engaging the community in environmental science is remarkable and I’m sure she will continue to have a positive impact on her community and workplace going forward."