Resilience 101: Journeys of a grad student

One of the most exciting aspects of my graduate program is the fact that I get to experience my entry into marine science all over again—but from the other side of the lectern.  When I was a sophomore in college, I was really confused about my career path. Actually I am not sure that I had a career path at that point. I knew I loved biology, but the biology major was difficult to navigate and succeed in because many of the classes were full of hundreds of students. I found solace in another major that had nothing to do with biology, which was art history. Thus started an even stranger road to “I have no idea what I want to do when I am older”, until a friend randomly asked if I’d go on a summer study abroad course with her. It was in the Bahamas, and of course I said yes!

This course in both marine and field ecology changed everything- I was suddenly so inspired by beautiful coral reefs and by a lecture we were given on marine conservation. I remember sitting there and have a huge light-bulb moment when I realized… oh my gosh… you can do this as a job? You can get paid to snorkel or dive on coral reefs? It wasn’t until later when I realized just how important and threatened these systems were, and became enraptured by the consequences for human communities.

Anyway- on that study abroad course was a really energetic professor who can get any student jazzed about science, even about snails and the rocks they live on (I ended up thinking snails found on rocky intertidal zones were so cool, I did a small project on them looking at their migration patterns and what drives this movement).  This professor, Dr. Brian Silliman, is now my graduate advisor. He’s gone off and started the same study abroad course through the University of Florida and in just a few days (!!), I will be off to San Salvador, Bahamas to be a teaching assistant on the course that inspired my career!

For one, I can’t express how excited I am to be near a reef. Since August I’ve had my head stuck in so many books and papers reading all about coral reefs and trying to learn as much as I can that I can’t wait to just go LOOK at them. Second, this year I get to give a lecture on marine conservation, and I can hardly contain my excitement when I think about the possibilities of sharing cool work being done around the world to help save reef systems and hopefully inspire some of them to go into conservation.

If you have any awesome conservation stories, please send them my way! I would love to share aspects of your work with students and help further science and management connections. 

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Comment by Reef Resilience Program on February 25, 2013 at 11:50am

This is so great! Thanks for sharing, Liz- we look forward to hearing how the course goes! Take some pictures and post them here? 

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