College of Science

Environmental Science MS

ENSCI Graduate Student Earns the Provost's Graduate Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement

Alexandra Thomsen, a graduate student in the Environmental Science master's program, was recently selected to receive the Provost's Graduate Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement.

As a thesis student within the Haffa Lab, Thomsen has been examining natural vegetation colonization in Hester Marsh, a 61-acre restoration site in Elkhorn Slough (Moss Landing, California). To learn more about her thesis research, check out Alexandra's interview below.

Head shot of Alexandra Thomsen

What is the title of your thesis project?

Examining natural vegetation colonization at a high-elevation marsh restoration site.

What does your thesis research entail?

I am monitoring natural vegetation colonization at the Hester Marsh restoration site in Elkhorn Slough, which was built at a high elevation in the tidal frame in order to be resilient to sea level rise. I am conducting statistical modeling to identify factors that promote or inhibit marsh plant colonization using data collected through field sampling and drone surveys. This work is a collaboration with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve to inform future projects at the Slough and beyond, since this type of restoration project may be one important strategy to ensure tidal marsh persistence under projected sea level rise scenarios.

How is your project contributing to your professional goals?

Working on this thesis project has pushed me to develop many skills -- particularly statistical analysis and GIS skills -- which I hope to use in my future career.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student at CSUMB?

The faculty are very approachable, committed to their students, and generous with their time. I have really enjoyed working with and learning from my professors and advisors!

I plan to pursue a career in coastal conservation and restoration.

In addition to Provost's Graduate Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement, Alexandra was also the recipient of the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Graduate Fellowship and the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute - COAST scholarship.

Congratulations Alexandra Thomsen, on this incredible accomplishment! :)