Rae-Ann MacLellan-Hurd '17
Earth and Environmental Science Alumna
Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Master’s Student at the School of Freshwater Science and Technology
What are some of the keys to your success at Unity College?
I started getting involved in research projects pretty early on in my freshman year. I started working on getting sediment cores and doing different work on that. In my sophomore year into junior year, I applied for a fellowship through the EPA to fund research through the school, which I received, and I was able to continue to do even more research on Lake Winnecook.
I developed that into a thesis, and I was able to design my own research project, working on lake issues, focusing on phosphorus dynamics and potential release from the sediment in Lake Winnecook.
That research experience is really what lead me to be able to work on a larger research project as a research assistant in graduate school, which now I also work with phosphorus dynamics, just in Lake Michigan … a much larger lake.
What’s next for you after you earn your master’s degree?
I’m graduating in May, so I started to look at a few job opportunities. My goal is to get in with either a state agency or the federal government working on some sort of aquatic management science. My focus is mainly on nutrient dynamics, but I also work with invasive species now, so I’d like to get involved with an organization helping to protect our waterways from either eutrophication or other invasive species.
What are some of the things that make a Unity College education different from other colleges or universities?
At Unity College, I got a lot of opportunities to work out in the field. I think my first fieldwork experience was going out on Lake Winnecook in the middle of winter on a really cold day and coring with Kevin Spigel and his class. Sometimes you just gotta get out there and do what you’ve gotta do.
I would recommend — even through your first semester — just getting involved in everything you can, and talking to your advisors, because you never know if there’s a research opportunity or small project or even general outreach or whatever you’re looking to do in the future. You never know what projects are going on until you go around and ask.