Andy Robinson '21
Focused Research and Scholarship
At UNE, the Marine Science Center is right on campus as opposed to a satellite campus a few hours away like it is at other schools. That stood out. The ability to do research as an undergrad was really important to me. From the start, professors are totally open to bringing on first-year students. A student may be really interested in working with a specific professor or in their subject area, or the student may just be curious. I know of students who signed on with multiple different professors in their first semester to learn about different subjects and what aligned with their interests and then followed a track with a particular project later on. It’s a really great thing to get involved like that so quickly. The staff are so willing to take students’ interests into account and find a way to work them into projects.
For my research, I spent a lot of time out on the boat deploying sensors. I worked with the makerspace to design some GPS drifters that recorded location as they went around the harbor. I got a paper published on that earlier this year, and it will be part of my thesis.
Talk to as many professors as you can about getting involved in research when you are taking the intro-level marine science classes in your first year. You'll get exposure to both marine faculty and marine grad students who are great resources for talking to about your interests and making connections to help you get involved.
Before diving into my research, I was able to go on the Galapagos travel course. The course was a 400-level marine class. It was a lot more open-format and discussion-based than my other classes. Each student presented on a few animals and plants that we would see when we took our trip to the Galapagos, which was really cool. It was a good mix of students across the different marine disciplines, environmental science, biology, and maybe one or two other programs mixed in as well. It was open to a lot of programs — there were 14 of us total. The professor really made sure we had a lot of diversity of thought.
The trip was amazing. We spent the first day in the capital of Ecuador going around to some of the historical places, like the colonial palaces and a few indigenous markets. Then we flew out to the Galapagos and spent the next week on a boat with just our group. There were snorkeling excursions and hikes each day. We got the chance to kayak and swim with sea lions. There was even one day when we were getting ready for lunch, and someone spotted a group of dolphins breaching out in the distance, so we all piled into the inflatable dinghies and went motoring off after them.
It was one of those things that I knew I was never going to have the chance to do outside of UNE, have that personal of an experience on a trip. It was really unique.