College of Science

Environmental Science MS

Graduate Students Reflect on Professional Science Internships Prior to Graduation

May 15, 2019

The Environmental Science Master’s program (ENSCI, formerly known as Applied Marine and Watershed Science) is gearing up to send off another set of graduates this Friday!

To prepare for a career in science, many ENSCI graduate students choose to pursue the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) track. The PSM track equips students with a 400-hour professional internship that allows them to advance the skills they acquired in the classroom in a professional setting. PSM students often leave the program with unique technical skill sets that help distinguish them as they enter the workforce.

We recently touched base with three soon-to-be graduates to learn more about how their PSM internships have helped shaped them into experienced professionals. To read more, check out their interviews below.

Savannah Johnson | M.S. Environmental Science

Position: Student Assistant | Site: CSUMB Wetland Environment Ecology Lab

Savannah Johnson in the field

What kind of work did you conduct at your internship site?

Throughout my internship, I looked at the biota within intermittent streams in and near oil fields around Bakersfield, California. Specifically, I sought to understand the differences between disturbed and reference sites by looking at stream measurements, bugs, and moss.

How has your internship experience contributed to your professional goals?

I hope that my next step in my career will be as an environmental scientist. By the conclusion of my project, I have gained practical and applicable skills with fieldwork, sample processing, analysis, report writing, and presentations - all of which I believe will be transferable.

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

The environment is friendly, challenging, and thought provoking, while the courses teach highly applicable skills within the environmental science field.

Melissa Abderrahim | M.S. Applied Marine and Watershed Science

Position: Ocean Acidification and Climate Change Intern | Site: California Ocean Science Trust

Melissa Abderrahim delivering a presentation

What kind of work did you conduct at your internship site?

My work focused on engaging with the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Task Force supporting the CA Ocean Protection Council's actions on ocean acidification including the development of the California Ocean Acidification Action Plan.

How has your internship experience contributed to your professional goals?

While at the California Ocean Science Trust, I was able to use my strong scientific background to translate complex scientific concepts such as ocean acidification in ways that can be useful for policy-makers. I also gained valuable project management skills and built relationships with state agency staff. My experience at the California Ocean Science Trust has reinforced my goal to work in the boundary between science and policy and to seek practical solutions to issues facing the marine and coastal ecosystems.

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

Being able to take a variety of classes that have helped me shape my career goals.

Kathleen Hicks | M.S. Applied Marine and Watershed Science

Position: Water Quality Intern | Site: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Kathleen sampling water quality

What kind of work did you conduct at your internship site?

In my internship I looked for trends in over 20 years of monthly water quality data for 25 sites in the Elkhorn Slough region. I used R to graphically and statistically analyze trends over time for ammonia, nitrate, orthophosphate, and dissolved oxygen saturation and compare them to trends in upwelling and precipitation. I also worked with calibrating and deploying in-situ water quality sondes for monitoring of physical parameters.

How has your internship experience contributed to your professional goals?

I gained a lot of experience in the computer techniques used in analyzing long-term trends in water quality data. I hope to use this in my professional career by monitoring water quality to measure the efficacy of restoration efforts or identify important areas for rehabilitation. I also gained experience in the methods and equipment used for obtaining these data. My goal is for this type of fieldwork to also be part of my professional career. I also was able to publish an online technical report in collaboration with my mentors at ESNERR, which was a huge accomplishment for me. All of this experience has paid off - I recently secured a full-time position as a Scientific Aid with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in San Luis Obispo.

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

Doing hands-on projects that allow me to work on my technical skills for analysis of environmental data and also contribute a product that will hopefully benefit the Monterey community. I've also enjoyed working with chemistry faculty, staff, and students.

Congratulations to these three and the rest of the ENSCI Class of 2019!