Summer internship brings focus to career choice

  • Saturday, September 27, 2014

    UMES biology major eyes marine science in her future

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Sept. 28, 2014) - Mariah Dennis spent this past summer carefully charting her future after she graduates from UMES. The junior biology major now sees being a marine scientist as her career path.   

    Mariah Dennis at Woods Hole ~ 2014Ten weeks in Woods Hole, Mass., a renowned locale for study and research of marine life and environmental science, whetted her desire to be part of the next generation of scientists taking on challenges that those important fields present.   

    "I was definitely out of my comfort zone," Dennis said of her summer in New England, "but I loved it."    

    She was among 15 minority undergraduates picked to participate in the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program organized by a consortium of six science institutions in the Atlantic coast village on Cape Cod. College juniors and seniors work alongside seasoned researchers on intense, ongoing projects.   

    "There's a whole town full of scientists," said Dennis, a UMES 2014 Honda Campus All-Star. "Everyone is so interesting - and interested in what they are doing. There is a lot of science going on there and it's marvelous."   

    Science was a favorite subject for Dennis growing up in Pittsgrove, N.J., some 35 miles south of Philadelphia. She enjoyed working on school projects like mini-volcano with her father and visiting aquariums in Baltimore and nearby Cape May, N.J.    

    At Woods Hole, Dennis met Dr. Ambrose Jearld, a fisheries biologist and academic program director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and the summer internship director. He also happens to be a UMES alumnus, Class of 1965.   

    Dennis compared notes with Jearld about UMES and said she was flattered by his interest in her as a budding biologist-researcher. She also credits UMES professors Andrea Johnson and Paulinus Chigbu for encouraging her to apply for the Woods Hole internship.   

    "It definitely will not be the last," she told a NOAA official. "The program has helped me solidify my plans for the future."   

    NOAA and Chigbu, who heads the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center at UMES, are organizing a national science and education forum to be held Oct. 26-29 on the Princess Anne campus. The biennial event, expected to attract several hundred participants, is tailor-made for undergraduates like Dennis, an African-American who plans to attend the forum to gauge graduate school options.   

    "We have the numbers to show that there are students from populations underrepres