2015 graduates

This group finished in June 2015.  Paul is out west doing botany, Casey is now working over at the Jackson Laboratory, Shira is starting grad school in the fall in education (with an emphasis on exercise and athletics), Katie is contemplating another UN conference and Emily is waiting for a year, before she ends up in a health professional program, probably as a physical therapist or doing some sort of work with the elderly.  A very directed group of five, they have a much better idea of where they are going than I did when I graduated – CP (below are the profiles they wrote for themselves as undergraduates).

Casey Acklin.  c-acklinI originally came to College of the Atlantic thinking that I was going to study marine biology; I have loved the ocean, and the animals it contains, since before I can remember. But, just like many other happy students, my plans changed. I am now on track to pursue a career in biomedical research, focusing specifically on neuropsychology and neurophysiology. The brain is one of the only systems that we still truly do not understand, and so I am fascinated by the workings of the mind and how thought processes control and interact with behavior. During my high school years I worked at The University of Nevada, Reno and Drexel University to develop a better environmental enrichment protocol for rodents being used in the lab. I am currently working with The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor to isolate the genetic mechanisms that govern cognitive benefits brought about through that enrichment, and I am hoping that a project such as this one will become my senior project in a couple of years. When I’m not actively investigating the world in the lab, I am exploring it in the great outdoors, taking advantage of Acadia National Park for beautiful cross-country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. COA has been a wonderful place for me to expand my ideas about science and humanity in general, developing a more wholesome perspective on the the role of scientists in the community and in the world.

Shira Caitlin shira-caitlin-for-web
I have always been fascinated by life underwater, starting at a young age with fresh and salt water aquariums. As I grew up I realized the broader picture of the aquarium trade and became interested in ocean conservation and education. During my high school career I spent two summers sailing as a student with Sea Education Association on the brigantines Corwith Cramer and Robert C. Seamans, studying the Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine, and the Southern California Bight.
As a second year student at COA I am focusing my education in marine science and am working towards an elementary education teaching certification. In the future I hope to work as a field based environmental science educator.  I have a love for sea urchins and all critters of the intertidal zone.

Paul Excoffier – I grew up in El Sobrante, California, 20 miles northeast of San Francisco. From a young age I’ve been curious about the world. I’m interested in an absurd number of subjects including but not limited to biology, chemistry, physics, math, economics, politics, language, history, and photography. While not neglecting my other interests, I plan to direct my studies at COA towards conservation biology and ecology.

Katie O’Brien.
Katie-Headshot-150x150Always fascinated by the ocean and anything fishy, I spent my childhood summers on Lakes Erie and Huron swimming, sailing, and pretending to be the marine biologist I was convinced I would be at the age of 5. While I still held on to that aspiration most of my life, having a conservationist mother and world-travelling father who were convinced I would do something to “save the world,” I also became passionate about environmental and social justice issues. Through beginnings of environmental organizing and social justice activism in high school, it became clear to me that focusing solely on the biology of marine animals would be short-sighted and lack the full picture of their place in a broader, interconnected web of a human world. College of the Atlantic seemed like the perfect place to explore these connections (and much closer to the actual ocean than Michigan or Ontario). Here I have studied international climate policy and marine law, fisheries management and policy, oceanography, as well as gender, food systems, literature, and social theory. I often describe my studies here as examining the intersection between policy, science, and people, although I’d argue there are many more than three paths crossing. My senior project is research with Dr. Bridie McGreavy from UMaine on social and ecological resilience within the soft-shell clam fishery of Frenchman Bay.

Em website picEmily Peterson.  I first came to College of the Atlantic to attend Islands Through Time summer program while in high school. We studied marine ecology, literature, and the cultural history of Maine’s coastline. ITT was an introduction to college level courses, Bar Harbor, and interdisciplinary studies. The most incredible experience in the program was spending four days on COA’s research islands. The ocean always fascinated me while growing up, but after those days on the remote islands my connection with the ocean strengthened. After ITT ended, my focus was how to get back to College of the Atlantic. I transferred to COA fall 2012 after I a year studying biology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. I was searching for new challenges, and I found that here at COA. Currently I am exploring my passions through marine studies, field research, and marine wildlife policy. My recent courses have been Marine Mammal Biology, Marine Biology, International Wildlife Policy, and Genetics. I will be spending my summer on Great Duck Island researching the wildlife on the island, while also traveling to other Maine islands to document the impacts of sea level rise.


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