Featured Graduate Student, July 2011
Katelin is pursuing a Masters degree in Fisheries Science and studies population dynamics and management uncertainty in marine fisheries. She attended Randolph-Macon Womanís College and received a BS in Environmental Science, completing an Honors Thesis on the relationship between herbivorous fish biomass and algae density in Hawaii. Katelin is the Chief Justice of the Graduate Honor System, her department delegate to the Graduate Student Assembly, and President of Queer Grads and Allies.
How would you describe your area of study to your grandmother?
The very simplest explanation is that right now weíre not very good at predicting how a fishing regulation will actually impact a fish population. If the weather is really nice in a particular year, more people might go fishing than we expect. If fuel prices go up, less people may go fishing. Iím trying to estimate how large that uncertainty might be for different types of regulations.
How do you think earning an advanced degree will change your role in society?
Look at all the movers and shakers. In science, they all have graduate degrees. If you want to make a difference, you canít just have passion. You have to have specialized skills and knowledge. Thatís where an advanced degree comes into the equation.
Did your past experiences in life or education help prepare you for graduate school or did you have to develop different strategies to succeed?
I was lucky enough to attend a very small, private, liberal arts college right here in Virginia Ė Randolph-Macon Womanís College Ė and the experience has absolutely shaped my ability to succeed in graduate school. I find that the classroom model is very similar between my college experience and my graduate classes Ė small size, discussion- oriented, and tough! My other experiences with Americorps, study abroad, and outdoor sports (hiking, diving, caving, running, and climbing) have helped me find a balance between knowledge acquisition and personal growth.
If you were able to merge another discipline with yours, what would it be?
Economics. So much of what we do in the natural resources world is driven by money. Having a better understanding of the way that money can act as a driver for human behavior would let us develop more realistic (and therefore successful) conservation plans.
Which field are you most happy that you did not enter?
Any field that requires close contact with human bodily fluids. Fish guts are much nicer!
What is the last book you read strictly for pleasure and how long ago was it?
Iím not sure I could survive grad school without time set aside specifically for pleasure reading. Iím currently working on The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. In June I also finished the four books currently out in J. V. Jonesí Sword of Shadows series, a few of Terry Pratchettís Discword novels, and Richard Dawkinsí The God Delusion.
Please describe your most meaningful academic relationship.
Although I treasure my relationship with my advisor (and other faculty members), there is a special bond that forms between graduate students. We share in each other's trials and successes, hardships and joys. I think my graduate experience would have been greatly reduced without the constant support and encouragement of other students.
What are your aspirations upon graduation?
Iíll either move straight on to a PhD program or take some time to work in fisheries conservation initiatives abroad. Iíd like to spend some time applying the skills Iíve developed here to problem solving fisheries issues in impoverished coastal communities. That, or become a masseuse.
How has getting involved in campus or community activities shaped your graduate experience?
Getting involved with the Graduate Honor System has completely opened my eyes to the way that the graduate school operates. It has allowed me to serve on the Commission for Student Affairs and build meaningful relationships with graduate school and student affairs staff and administrators. I really recommend getting involved in student life as an effective way to avoid graduate school burn-out.
If travel to Mars happens in your lifetime, would you want to be one of the scientists on board? If yes, what would you contribute to the mission?
Although I would absolutely love to travel between stars, I think it's unlikely that we'll need a marine fisheries specialist on Mars anytime soon. But if we did, I'd be the first to volunteer!
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