2011 graduates

Below are the student profiles and pictures from the students that I worked with that graduated in June 2011.  You can also find out more about their current endeavors on the graduates page.

Class of 2011:

Adrianna Beaudette.
I grew up in Dallas and came to COA interested in conservation biology.  In my time at the school, I have been on three different field experiences, any one of which would have qualified for an internship; after my first year at COA I spent the summer working on guillemots on our Great Duck Island field station with faculty member John Anderson and several other students, and since then I have worked on conservation projects in California as part of a team working on Pacific fishers (see picture) and in Bolivia on blue-throated macaws.  Since coming to the college, my interests have broadened (or perhaps I have come back) to outdoor education, literature, and art and my research is more likely to involve people and outdoor education. Over the last summer I worked with faculty member Dave Feldman examining local rainfall patterns, showing that although yearly rainfall hasn’t changed, the frequency of large rainfall events has increased.  For my senior project I am paddling on the Guadalupe River, taking water quality samples, exchanging mail with fourth graders, talking to reporters, and generally raising awareness about the state of the river in conjunction with a group of people trying to raise awareness about conservation issues on the river.

Alex Brett.

I have been interested in marine science ever since high school, when I volunteered with The Lobster Conservancy’s juvenile lobster monitoring program in Portland, Maine. During my time at COA, I have continued to indulge that fascination through whatever means possible. In the summer of 2009, I interned at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences in their Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, where I assisted with a study on tag-retention rates in summer flounder. The following Fall I spent a semester with Sea Education Association, where I learned about oceanographic research techniques and nautical science aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, a 134′ brigantine. As my time at COA comes to a close, I am working on conducting a baseline survey of the benthic marine life of Frenchman Bay through a series of permanent monitoring sites. Aside from my academic interest in marine critters, I am an avid sailor and SCUBA diver.

Saras Yerlig. Coming from a small Waldorf school in the Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts, COA was an ideal choice for me, offering a supportive community and a hands-on, interdisciplinary education.  I have been able to pursue a wide range of interests from farming and food systems issues, to outdoor leadership and education, and field ecology and natural history.  I have worked at Beech Hill farm since my arrival, led multiple trips for our outdoor program, and taken many field science classes.  My various courses in herpetology prompted an internship in Costa Rica as a herpetology and tropical ecology field assistant.  In an attempt to bring together my many interests, my senior project is a multi-faceted exploration and paddling guide to the Machias River in Downeast Maine.  Lastly, I find that I feel most fully alive when outside, camping, paddling, swimming, dancing, and making music, and sharing these experiences with others.

Evie Smith

I grew up in Edgecomb Maine. Started my college career at UC Davis – spent two years there and then bounced back to the east coast. I planned to take a year off and travel, but instead stayed close to home. During this period I interned with the Boothbay Region Land Trust and Boothbay Region High School mentoring high school seniors and mapping local hiking trails. I found my way to COA by chance and renewed a fascination with local seafood systems and coastal communities. For my internship I worked with Penobscot East Resource Center, a nonprofit in Stonington Maine. The organizations mission is to secure a future for the fishing communities of eastern Maine.
While interning with PE I coordinated their second annual shrimp community supported fishery (CSF). Now, a year later I am back on as a staff member coordinating the third annual shrimp CSF. I hope to continue exploring the complexities of Maine’s seafood systems and the unique communities they
support. Note: you can hear Evie talk about CSF’s on a WERU common ground radio show taped February 4, 2011 here

Luka Negoita. Throughout high school I became interested in wilderness survival and primitive living skills,which led to a passion for wild edible and medicinal plant knowledge. Now at COA, I’ve had the support to apply this passion towards the taxonomy and ecology of plants. In Summer 2009 I worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation on the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project, sampling plants for a long-term study of the effects of timber management on the ecology of the Ozark Mountains. In Summer 2010, I organized a study to inventory the plant ecology of Little Duck Island, ME—an 80-acre island 18 miles south of Bar Harbor. I plan on using the data from this study for my senior project at COA. My current interests focus around the evolutionary and ecological processes affecting the biogeography of plants.

Emily Postman
I’m a fourth year student, studying human ecology with my wonderful peers.   I have enjoyed a range of courses in literature, science, and policy; my interests center around environmental justice, community participation and civic engagement, resource distribution and the commons. I spend a lot of time getting advice from my advisors, Chris Petersen and Ken Cline, and also try to take all of Karen Waldron’s courses.  I have worked as a farmer, baker, organizer and educator. I swim in the ocean 9 months a year and in my spare time I make elaborate desserts and rye bread.

Kate Ross. Growing up on a small barrier island in northern Massachusetts, I have always had a strong connection to the ocean.  After graduating high school, I took two years off from school and then discovered College of the Atlantic.  The small classes, close community, beautiful seaside location, and emphasis on experiential learning made COA the perfect place for me.  During my time at the college I have made a point to take a wide range of courses within and beyond the sciences including botany, ornithology, herpetology, wildlife policy, GIS, history of film, 3D studio, museum design, and an independent study in recycled crafts.  One thing I’ve really enjoyed about COA has been the opportunity to combine my varied interests in fun and innovative ways.  In my final year at COA, I am currently working on my senior project which will summarize field work I have carried out over the past two spring seasons, studying sea cucumber spawning and potential environmental cues.

Yiftu Wondimu. After a year of voluntarily teaching in my home country, Ethiopia, I was so sure that I wanted to study social sciences. I thought I had everything figured out until I came to College of the Atlantic. At COA, I rediscovered my interest and passion for biological science with a focus on human beings. After a Calculus III course with Dave Feldman, I fell in love with mathematics all over again. You are probably thinking that I must have been a confused teenager at that point and I am not surprised. What better place to be confused, discover and rediscover my interests and get the most interdisciplinary education than COA? As a sophomore I started volunteering at the Jackson Laboratory and was blessed to have Dr. Kevin Flurkey, a wonderful mentor and supervisor. I got an INBRE award to be part of the 2009 Summer Students Program at the Jackson Laboratorym and continued with an independent study during the fall term following the internship. In the summer and fall of 2010, I got accepted into the internship program at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard in Charlestown, MA. The Ragon Institute is dedicated to studying the immune system and finding a vaccine for HIV.  Under the supervision of Dr. Sylvie Le Gall, I studied the effect of knockouts of some subunits of the proteasome, a protein complex that degrades unwanted or damaged proteins. Currently, I am writing a scientific report on this project as part of my senior project. I don’t want to finish writing without thanking Professor Chris Petersen who has been an amazing advisor by supporting, advising and making sure that I keep track of my plans.

Robin Van Dyke. During my at COA  I have spent two summers doing research and am currently working on my senior project. In the summer of 2009 I did an internship at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, in Newport, Oregon, as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. My project there was comparing the parasites found in a native species of fish and an introduced species living in the same area. In the summer of 2010 I was an intern at the Mount Desert Biological Laboratory, and worked with Chris Petersen and Helen Hess on parasitism in the local periwinkles. We compared infection rates among species of periwinkle, location, and height in the intertidal. I am building on my summer work for my senior project, which is a continuation of the periwinkle project and a comparison of parasitism in mummichogs collected from a flooded open-pit mine and a site with no mining activity. While at COA I have developed a strong interest in the evolution of local adaptation and in parasitism. Aside from invertebrates, I like reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.