Major: Environmental Science
Specialization: Ecosystem Restoration
Graduation: May, 2018
Internship: NOAA Hollings Scholar in Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve
Duration: June-August 2017
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In the spring of my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Hollings Scholar by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. This incredible program—a fellowship of sorts—consists of both a scholarship and internship component, and it has been a gift that keeps on giving. Last summer, I spent 10 weeks on the East Coast carrying out a research project on a topic that is still beginning to gain steam in environmental circles. “Blue carbon”, as it is known, is the portion of the global carbon cycle that is stored in wetland soils, primarily those of mangroves, seagrass beds, and salt marshes. These systems are rapidly disappearing worldwide but surprisingly store carbon at a faster rate than forests or other carbon sinks, exemplifying their heightened value in the face of a warming climate. The setting of my work was the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR), which is one of 29 such sites around the country that are maintained by NOAA for research and education. Within the relatively intact salt marshes of DNERR, I spent considerable time both in the field and in the lab collecting and assessing soil cores to determine their carbon content, particularly across environmental gradients pertaining to salinity, bulk density, and vegetative composition. In my abbreviated first stint with research, I learned so much valuable information that will no doubt propel me forward in my career aspirations. Moreover, I was able to go on to present my work at a professional conference and interact with people from all over the country who share my passion for coastal management and restoration. There is such an incredible amount of interesting and necessary work going on where the land meets the ocean, and I am so happy to have taken an early role in contributing to it in some capacity.
All in all, I would recommend the Hollings Scholar program to anyone interested in the multitude of fields NOAA dabbles in. These include everything from meteorology and GIS to deep ocean exploration and robotics. Although we don’t think about our coasts and oceans too much in the heart of Ohio, they certainly need our attention now more than ever. My advice to other students is to look beyond the opportunities offered by Ohio State. Even with the swath of resources this university can provide, there are countless more prospects that are merely a web search away. Expand your horizons and don’t hesitate to take a chance on yourself! Wherever your interests lie, there is almost certainly a position out there to suit them. Check job boards and the websites of government agencies and NGO’s alike, and do so repeatedly. You never know what you’ll find that piques your curiosity.