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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Research Intern Building on Reserve Experience

Posted by | April 3, 2012 | Filed under: Culture

In the summer of 2009, Marissa Hammond came to us as a wide-eyed UNE freshman with little experience in research science. She has since blossomed into a NOAA scholarship award winner who has been accepted into a highly respected graduate program in fisheries management and policy. Here is what she had to say about how the Wells Reserve played a part in that journey…


I am currently a senior at the University of New England, where I’m pursuing a degree in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern at the Wells Reserve studying larval and juvenile fish in the Webhannet Estuary.

After high school, I knew I wanted to study Environmental Science and Marine Biology — the question was where. When I toured the UNE campus it felt like the right place! I grew up in Wiscasset, a small coastal town in the Midcoast region of Maine, and UNE recreated that atmosphere for me. Within my first weeks on campus, I began volunteering for Dr. Pam Morgan of the Environmental Studies department, who frequently collaborated with researchers at the Wells Reserve. During the next month, I helped with various tasks involving salt marsh restoration. While volunteering with Dr. Morgan, I met Jeremy Miller, a research associate with the Reserve. Jeremy happened to be looking for an intern to take over sampling and processing for their ichthyoplankton (larval fish) monitoring program. So, for the next two and half years, I spent time during the school year and summer interning and volunteering at the Wells Reserve, gaining a vast array of skills, knowledge, and experience.

Because of this opportunity, I became a very competitive candidate for NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship, which I received during my sophomore year. This scholarship came with funding for two years, along with a paid internship for summer ’11. I did mine at the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) field station in Orono, Maine, where I completed an independent project that I later presented at the NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

My time at the Wells NERR and with NMFS sparked my interest in pursuing a graduate degree in fisheries science. I’ve always had a stake in Maine’s fisheries because my father is a lobsterman; I’ve been “sterning” for him since I was nine! However, with the predicted impacts of climate change, my curiosity and outlook on fisheries shifted. I went from enjoying it because I like being outside, to wondering how successful the next season would be if water temperatures increased or storms worsened.

I applied to Michigan State University and was accepted into the Fisheries and Wildlife Department in January. I am entering into a PhD program in the area of Fisheries Management and Policy. I will be working with a University Distinguished Professor, Dr. William Taylor, and will begin my program in August 2012. I will be studying the impacts of climate change on Lake Whitefish recruitment, which is the most important commercial fishery in the Great Lakes.

If it wasn’t for the connections I made and experiences I had within the Environmental Studies Department at UNE, the Wells NERR, and NMFS, I wouldn’t be where I am today!

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