College of Science

MSCI Alumna Reflects on Undergraduate Experience at CSUMB

October 11, 2019

Sarah Collins, an alumna of the Bachelor’s of Science Marine Science program, seamlessly connects the dots between her experience as an undergraduate and the accomplishments she has achieved thus far. We recently touched base with her to see what she has been up to since graduating in 2017.

What is your current position?

I am currently a Scientific Aid for the Department of Fish and Wildlife with the project: California Recreational Fisheries Survey (CRFS). I collect recreational fishery data and biological samples at locations in Monterey, Moss Landing, and Santa Cruz. I identify finfish and invertebrates to a species level and collect lengths and weights of finfish. I work in the field most of the time, interacting with recreational anglers at launch ramps, docks, piers, and jetties. I also check on local recreational fishing charter boats to determine how often they fish and what they are targeting. Every now and then I do data entry in the office.

Did your experience as a science student contribute to your current career pathway?

It most definitely did. The classes I took at CSUMB gave me knowledge and experience collecting data in the field. All of my internships and jobs since I graduated have been doing field work so I strongly believe the field trips I went on with my classmates and teachers allowed me to feel confident in that type of work. I also give credit to the professional development class I took. It helped me feel confident in my interviewing skills as well as writing great resumes and cover letters.

What was your favorite course in the undergraduate program?

It is difficult to choose from but I would say my favorite course in my undergrad was Ecology. Though it is fun to learn about species and habitats on their own, Ecology brings everything together. My Ecology course had many field trips, teaching us about techniques of data collection and analysis. Ecology gave me a perspective on how ecosystems work which is valuable to be able to understand in the Marine Science field. Ecology also gave me an appreciation for the relationships between all organisms.

Are there any specific skills that you gained while at CSUMB that have helped contribute to your current success?

Some skills I acquired while at CSUMB were how to properly identify species in all different settings. Whether that be when an animal is right in front of me, like in Dr. Steve Moore's Marine Biology class, or on a video we collected from the seafloor in Dr. James Lindholm's Fish Ecology class. I learned how to have organized data while collecting in the field and how to conduct radio telemetry and animal tracking in Jennifer Duggan's Mammalogy class. These skills helped me get an internship after graduation, which in turn led to a job as well. The identification and field work experience from many of my courses gave me the hands-on skills I needed for my current job as a Scientific Aid.

Is there anything exciting that you would like to share with us?

To elaborate on my internship after graduation, I worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) intern for the research and tracking team. For my internship I did an independent research project on the post release transition into the wild of rehabilitated Southern Sea Otters. My internship led to a job as a sea otter tracker and behaviorist with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) while they filmed a TV series. I was there to locate specific otters from a boat as well as recognize any behaviors that may have been associated with stress from our presence.

Sarah’s skill set is proof of the extraordinary opportunities that lie at CSUMB. Keep up the excellent work, Sarah!