Current students

The following is a list of students that are official advisees – I also work with quite a few other students on projects, but this group occasionally needs a signature from me.  I may have some comments, but the text and pictures are largely supplied by the students. In the last year a  recap of what they were doing over fall/winter break and over the summer of 2017 at  the marinestudiesatcoa blog, the links are here. and here.

Graduate students

abby-with-bottleAbby Barrows.  I grew up on a Maine island and had the ocean as my playground.  From a young age I loved exploring the outdoors.  My passion for travel brought me to the University of Tasmania, where I earned a degree in Zoology with a focus on Marine Biology.  After spending time mapping the canopy of old-growth temperate rainforests and trapping Tasmanian devils, I studied seahorse diversity, distribution and trade in Papua New Guinea,  published two academic papers on the research.  I  then travelled extensively from the South Pacific to the Himalayas, the Middle East, Mediterranean and South America, before returning to New England.
Since 2012 I  have  been directing microplastic research , initiating the first baseline data map of microplastic pollution distribution in Maine. I used this research to help push through plastic reduction legislation and recently helped write the Maine Marine Debris Bill that was approved in March 2016.  For much of my research I managed a lab for Adventure Scientists where we processed and analyze international water samples, enabling a rare glimpse at the extent of plastic contamination in remote, understudied ocean and fresh waters.
In 2016 I began the Graduate program at College of the Atlantic, focusing on the distribution of microplastics in the marine and freshwater environment, the chemistry of microplastics, and the policy surrounding microplastic pollution. CP- Abby should be finishing her Masters around the end of 2017, already has two published papers on her work, and has three more in the works.  She has also started an oyster aquaculture farm on Deer Isle.  This is a picture of her grabbing a water sample, not sure if its in the South Pacific, the Gulf of Maine, or off Patagonia. She has been to all three places in the past year.


Class of 2018

Rose Edwards.  rose-bio-picI have lived in Maine my whole life. I was homeschooled through high school, spent a semester at Chewonki Semester School in Wiscasset, ME, and got my Divemaster certification when I was eighteen. I am in love with scuba diving, sharks, and fanged bioluminescent monsters of the deep, as well as writing, taking photographs, and painting with bright, vivid colors. I focus on these three passions – marine conservation, writing, and art – at COA. An example of my writing can be found on the marine studies blog here. In the summer of 2016 I did an internship in the Schoodic district of Acadia National Park. Directly following that I spent the year abroad, first with The School for Field Studies in the Turks and Caicos doing marine research, then sailing with SEA Semester along the east coast of New Zealand. In the summer of 2017, I am working as the Programs Manager for ACE, a non-profit on Cliff Island, ME that plans community events. For fun, I like to swim, read, roller skate, and drink tea, but not at the same time.

morganMorgan Heckerd.  I came to COA with the determination to become a marine biologist, but it wasn’t long before the school knocked me off my feet. I’ve found myself studying sustainable methods and practices including renewable energy, permaculture design, as well as some marine studies. Growing up on the coast of Maine I had the opportunity to explore the ocean on a sailboat. It’s in this background that my love for the environment is deeply rooted. In the summer of 2016 I spent a second summer working on a small island farm on Monhegan Island. CP – Morgan also  writes some powerful poetry, and is in the teacher certification program, and will graduate with the a teaching credential – so perhaps she will be teaching island children some day.

maxim-web-8Maxim Lowe.
I come from Sarasota, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Growing up near the ocean helped instill in me a love of nature and science, and I have drawn for as long as I can remember – as a result, my two passions are art and science. I was homeschooled from 4th grade through high school, and during that time, volunteered for eight years at a local wildlife rehabilitation center, spent half a year in French public middle school, went to Conserve School (an environmental stewardship semester school), and dual enrolled at the State College of Florida during my four years of high school.
Now, at COA,  I’m  combining art and science. I also hope to get my teaching certificate while at COA, as some of my biggest goals include using art as a tool to teach, through children’s books, comics, and animation. While my exact plans will probably change, I am sure they will involve science and art. Some of my favorite things to do are cooking, eating, and drawing – which I’ll be doing plenty of during my time at COA!  After spending time in Japan with a COA group during the summer of 2016, I’m spending winter 2017 in Taiwan as part of a set of COA courses taught by COA faculty Bonnie Tai and Suzanne Morse.
CP -Over the summer of 2017 Maxim is interning at the Cannery at South Penobscot, an artists space owned and run by Leslie Ross.

xochitl marmotXochitl Ortiz Ross.  Born in Nicaragua, raised in Italy and England, I somehow managed to find my way back to Maine, where my mother grew up. I spent most of my life in big cities longing to re-aquaint myself with nature, so my studies have focused on field biology, where I can blend my passions for biology and the outdoors. I have had the opportunity to gain first hand field-research experience both through COA on Mount Desert Rock, studying seals, and through the NSF REU program both in Colorado, studying marmots, and in Costa Rica, studying glass frogs. During the academic year I have also been working at Allied Whale, a marine mammal research group based at COA.  I am fascinated by animal behavior, particularly reproductive behavior and sociality, and its evolutionary context. I also hope to continue to develop my passion for natural history through mediums such as non-scientific writing, photography, and public communication.
CP -As you might imagine there were tons of awesome pictures of Xochitl working in the tropics, but I liked the marmot one the best.

Kenya Perry.kenya-perry-lowres  I grew up on an organic vegetable farm in a small town in Maine. I spent a few weeks of every summer on the ocean, and discovered my love for waves, water, and boats. When I was in 11th grade I participated in a semester program called Kroka. We skied the length of Vermont in the winter living out of a tent, carrying our supplies in our backpacks. In the spring we whitewater canoed into Canada, rowed the length of Lake Champlain, and biked from New York back to Kroka’s base camp. This program was a challenge for me, I learned how to live in a close-knit community, take care of my type 1 diabetes, all while learning how to live in the wilderness. The summer after Kroka I started farming again but I wanted to be challenged by the outdoors. I started working on an 1870’s schooner, and fell in love with old boats and sailing. College of the Atlantic is the perfect place for me to challenge myself and to learn about marine life. CP –  Last year she also built a treehouse with her partner, did an internship at a natural food’s store and is focusing academically on nutrition and outdoor education.

Siobhan Rickert Siobhan Rickert. I grew up in San Francisco, California spending my free time at the beach watching the waves and looking for animals. I was homeschooled in high school were I could dive into my interests and find my passion. My fascination with the ocean led me to volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands for five years, rehabilitating California marine mammals. My experience working with the sick marine mammals sparked my interest in a veterinary career. In my free time I like to be outside scuba diving, hiking, and rock climbing. During my time at College of the Atlantic I plan on studying to prepare for vet school and ocean conservation with a focus on marine mammals. For the summer of 2017 I am living back home in San Francisco working for a 24-hour veterinary hospital in San Francisco for the third summer.  CP – In the fall Siobhan will be in Chile doing her senior project studying veterinary medicine practices in a variety of settings and trying to understand how a ‘One Health’ philosophy plays out in the real world.

Teagan White.  teagan
I was born and raised in central Vermont. My dad grew up in Woods Hole in Cape Cod, so every summer we would spend a long weekend there. I come from a long line of fish-people who love the water, so in high school I joined a program called Ocean Classroom where I lived and attended school on a schooner for four months. I discovered COA through that program because the school generously let us use their pier and library while we were anchored in Bar Harbor. Since attending COA I have taken every marine class I can get my hands on. Thus far I seem to be interested in every aspect of marine sciences, so I hope that through COA I will begin to narrow my interests and build upon my experiences. Not only does COA offer a plethora of programs I’m interested in, it is also located on one of the most productive regions of the east coast! I couldn’t be more excited to pursue my education here. For the summer of 2016 I interned with Allied Whale at COA. CP – Teagan is back on Mount Desert Rock for the summer of 2017 studying the currents and water masses around Mount Desert Rock for what should become her senior project.


Class of 2019

katie-mussels-spring-2017Katie Clark. I first fell in love with the ocean and its amazing creatures while traipsing around San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay with my father as a small child. He was an employee, so I was able to go behind the exhibits, and I was fascinated by the unique creatures that I saw in each tank. Many of my early weekends were also at the beach that was only a ten minute walk away from my grandma’s house. That stretch of beach is still my favorite spot in the world. This interest in the ocean and its creatures led me to COA to study marine science and conservation, and my interests have since expanded to include ecology, sustainable fisheries, and environmental communication. I spent the summer of 2016 living at the college’s research station on Mount Desert Rock studying seal wounds. During the summer of 2017, I interned at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) working on a project to determine how the number of oyster larvae introduced to a given substrate affects the survival rates of those oysters. In my next two years at COA, I will continue to explore and blend my interests in marine biology, sustainable fisheries, and environmental communication.

heathersiegerHeather Sieger.  I became fascinated with marine science when I was young and would visit the beach during the summers. I loved digging in the sand to find crabs and other critters. My passion for marine conservation began in high school when I attended Coastal Studies for Girls, a semester school focused on leadership and marine science. I also attended Conserve School, an environmental stewardship semester school, and The Woolman Semester School, a Quaker semester school focused on peace, justice, and sustainability.  At College of the Atlantic, I am studying environmental science with a focus on marine conservation. I love working with children and enjoy combining these passions to teach young people about environmental science and conservation. During the summer of 2016, I worked with Summer Field Studies at COA and taught kids about the natural world. I spent the following fall term in the South Pacific with SEA Semester, sailing from American Samoa to New Zealand with port stops in Tonga and Fiji. After finishing my second year at COA, I took off to County Kerry, Ireland, to intern with Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre.

nick-tontiNicholas Tonti.  Marine science hooked me when I caught my first fish in the rivers of Northeast Ohio. I grew up in Youngstown, where Lake Erie was the closest thing I had to an ocean. Weekend fishing and camping trips to Lake Erie is where I found a connection to nature, a connection that has instilled in me a love for the natural world. My love for river ecology and ichthyology convergently evolved while I was in high school into a broader field–marine science. Marine science was a novel world to me and this new interest lead me to College of the Atlantic. College of the Atlantic gave me the chance to transport myself from the landlocked shores of Youngstown to open waters, from behind class desks to a distant shore; it brings the books to the bay; it brings illustrations to life. My interdisciplinary education has lead me to participate in Williams College Maritime Program–where I spent time sailing, traveling and learning about the different ecosystems of California and Louisiana, and completing my own research projects in oceanography, marine policy, and maritime history. My experiences at College of the Atlantic and Williams College have given me the drive and education to pursue marine research and graduate school. For the summer of 2017 I am doing an internship at the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket, mixing science and education with kids of all ages and doing a bit of research on the effects of water temperature on the growth of byssal threads in blue mussels. I will be spending my junior year studying fisheries and ecology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

amruta-surfingAmruta Valiyaveetil.  I was born and raised in India and have lived in both Kerala and Mumbai. Growing up around coastal regions I spent all my free time looking at the ocean and admiring fishermen and surfers. Eventually I got the courage to enter the waters and learn surfing, which I have grown to in the south and several other places (including my favorite surf paradise Bali).
I am also in love with Scuba diving and spent a year and a half in Thailand working using marine conservation techniques and this sparked my interest in scientific research. Growing up in India and being surrounded by a myriad of diseases I always wanted to be a doctor but got sidetracked by my love for the ocean and this made me come to COA where I could do both! During my time at COA I plan to prepare for med school (or vet school) and eventually also go into International wildlife and biodiversity politics.



Class of 2020

allie-with-snails-2017Allie Ceuvorst.  I grew up in a rural mountain town nestled in the Colorado Rockies.  After my freshman year at College of the Atlantic, I returned back to the mountains to pick up a summer job waitressing and looking after disabled children.  The extra income has allowed me to take some wild adventures around the country. In June, I found my way up to Eastport, Maine where I visited some relatives.  I then ventured a little further North into Canada to see the astonishing Campobello Island. Later on in the summer I reunited with more family members in Casper, WY.  In Colorado, I drove four hours to Great Sand Dunes National Park to splash in Medano Creek at the base of the dunes.  In August I will board a plane to Anna Maria Island, FL for some fun in the sun.  Throughout the summer I have been routing a road trip back to Maine and figuring out the logistics of the upcoming academic year.  I can’t wait for the adventures it will hold!

Bianca canoeingBianca Massacci. I come from Sardinia, a beautiful island located in the middle of the Mediterranean. I grew up hiking and swimming by the sea, activities that naturally led to my passion for being in nature and taking care of it, which is also what brought me to COA. I came to the College with the idea of studying ecology and sustainability, but also of exploring new fields. During my first year, I took particular interest on food related issues, and now I intend to continue my studies within the areas of mathematics, physics, and ecology. CP – This picture is of Bianca during her OOPS trip the weeks before she started her first year t COA.  Yes, she is always smiling.

emmawebEmma Ober. I grew up in Lincoln Vermont, a small town near Middlebury, half an hour from our favorite ski mountain, Mad River Glen. Through many great mentors and experiences in my life, I discovered a passion for science, mainly biology. My interests span from marine studies, to neuroscience, genetics, anatomy, and ornithology. This is supplemented by a love of art, graphic design, as well as theater production. I came to COA to expand my knowledge in a variety of fields and hopefully find a focus among them. CP- Emma is pictured here with a hawksbill turtle from WIDECAST turtle project in Costa Rica. CP – Over the summer of 2017 Emma is an intern at Allied Whale, which gets her to spend half of her time doing research on Mount Desert Island, and half of her time in Bar Harbor where she works both in the office and on whale watch boats as a naturalist. At MDR she is doing an extension of a recent senior project by Alyssa Murad, looking at parasite prevalence in introduced and native crab species. She will also be TA’ing Marine Biology in the fall.

chantal-in-norwayChantal Smeland Toennessen.  CP = Chantal is back in Norway for the summer after her first year at COA.  I met Chantal halfway thru fall term and we have been talking and laughing since then.  Chantal has a broad set of interests, from policy to anthropology to biomedical studies, and  she is a bright, intellectually curious, and engaging student that is great to be around.   This summer she is studying and drawing her way through the summer break, and spending a substantial amount of time out in nature, and hoping to attend some demonstrations against Norwegian neo-nazis.




Class of 2021

samevans2018Samuel Evans.  In the early morning of Christmas Eve, 1998, my birth in a hospital in Anchorage Alaska was witnessed by my parents, the doctors, nurses, and a bull mouse that was chewing on some bushes in the parking lot. I lived my first 6 years in a small village in south-west Alaska called Aniak. Here I experienced fishing and gutting salmon, blueberry picking, early schooling, and the frigid low temperature of -54 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. I also have a very special memory from this time when I watched a bull moose run through our yard. It stopped to glance at me on the porch of our house and just continued on its way. Ever since I have been fascinated with animals and the natural world. It also helps that both of my parents were science teachers at all levels, from preschool to university. In the summer of 2005, we moved down to Brevard, North Carolina. Finding COA was a purely random event. I found COA through CollegeBoard by search results and, by pure decision to just meet with my counselor, I set off on a journey to Islands Through Time. That program changed me for the better. One name stuck with me and dragged me back years later. John Anderson opened my eyes to the deeper meaning of reality in science and solidified my path. When I returned to COA, I felt as though I had completed my Odyssey. I finally felt at home. Now at COA, I plan to delve into evolutionary biology, ecology, natural history, and anything that captivates my curiosity.

aliza-leitAliza Leit. I am a first-year student at College of the Atlantic. Raised in Rochester New York, I grew up sailing on Lake Ontario and enjoying Rochester’s eclectic art scene. Every summer my family and I would make our way up to a working lobster village, Friendship, Maine, to sail on the bay and swim in frigid waters with my great grandmother. Exploration of the environment around me was a large part of my life whether playing on Maine’s rocky intertidal coast, tending to organic vegetables at The Harley School, or hiking in Alaska on a National Outdoor Leadership Course.  Everywhere that I travel I seek out the waterfront snorkeling in the Red Sea or the Pacific Ocean. After studying marine biology this fall, I am interested in learning more about sustainable aquaculture and sustainable harvesting practices of marine species.

Truth Muller