VIMS

VIMS grad students celebrate commencement

  • 2018 VIMS Commencement
    2018 VIMS Commencement  From L: VIMS Dean and Director John Wells, Darbi Jones, Shanna Williamson, Nadya Mamoozadeh, Fei Da, Julia Moriarty, Quang Huynh, CJ Sweetman, Nicole Cai, Zhuo Liu, Fei Ye, Ann Arfken, Adela Roa-Varon, Willy Goldsmith, Patricia O’Leary, Bethany Williams, Ben Marcek, Associate Dean of Academic Studies Linda Schaffner, and Savannah Michaelsen Lewis.  © Diego Vaz.
  • Commencement Audience
    Commencement Audience  Colleagues, friends, and family join in VIMS' 2018 Commencement Ceremony.  © Diego Vaz.
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Seventeen graduate students from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science joined family, friends, and faculty advisors during William & Mary’s commencement ceremony on May 12th.

Dean and Director John Wells says, “VIMS alumni have an admirable track record of leadership in academia, government, and private enterprise, and I have no doubt that this year’s exemplary group will continue that tradition with service to the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.”

Professor Linda Schaffner, Associate Dean of Academic Studies at VIMS, says “The School of Marine Science has a long history of producing outstanding scholars who have gone on to productive careers and significant leadership positions in science, policy, education, and the private sector. Our newest graduates will certainly do the same.”

Schaffner says this year’s graduates “are already moving into jobs that will allow them to contribute to sustainable fisheries, more accurate and useful computer models, and better informed public policy. I’ve enjoyed interacting with them during their time as students and now look forward to watching as their careers develop."

During their time at VIMS, members of this year's graduating class earned a number of fellowships, accolades, and awards. Highlights include

  • 3 Sea Grant/NMFS fellowships (Goldsmith, Huynh, Marcek)
  • 1 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (Roa-Varon)
  • 1 Smithsonian Institution Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (Roa-Varon)
  • 2 NSF East Asian and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowships (Moriarty and Roa-Varon)
  • 2 VASG fellowships (Mamoozadeh and Williams)
  • 2 Maury Award recipients (Goldsmith, Mamoozadeh)
  • 1 Zeigler Award recipient (Huynh)
  • 2 Knauss Fellows (Goldsmith, Williams)
  • 1 USGS Mendenhall Fellow (Moriarty)
  • More than 50 first or co-authored papers

This semester’s commencement group—with 5 master’s and 12 Ph.D. awardees in W&M’s School of Marine Science at VIMS—brings the total number of degrees earned by VIMS students to 1,046—comprising 642 master’s theses and 404 doctoral dissertations. The first master’s degree awarded to a student studying marine science at VIMS was in 1943 and the first doctoral degrees were awarded in 1968.

2018 Graduates
Master of Science in Marine Science
Nicole X. Cai

Ms. Nicole CaiNicole Cai earned a B.S. in Oceanography from Nanjing University, China, where she completed an undergraduate research thesis on numerical simulation of seafloor bedforms. Her current research interests include water-quality modeling on eutrophic aquatic systems, and the development and application of submerged aquatic vegetation and pH models for estuarine systems. Recently she was an International Fellow at the University of Oldenburg. She made a poster presentation at the 2016 Chesapeake Bay Research Symposium and is co-author on a peer-reviewed journal article. Nicole will start the Ph.D. program at VIMS this fall. Her co-advisors are Joseph Zhang and Jian Shen, Department of Physical Sciences.

Fei Da

Mr. Fei DaFei Da earned a B.S. in Oceanographic Science from Nanjing University, China. Prior to entering the Master’s program, he gained experience through four different summer internship experiences in China. Thus far, his research at VIMS has focused on the impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition and coastal nitrogen fluxes on low oxygen conditions in Chesapeake Bay. Fei has co-authored a peer-reviewed journal article and given numerous scientific presentations in the U.S. and abroad, including a poster presentation at a Gordon Research Seminar and Conference for Coastal Ocean Dynamics. He will start the Ph.D. program at VIMS this summer. His advisor is Marjy Friedrichs, Department of Biological Sciences.

Savannah Michaelsen Lewis

Savannah Michaelsen LewisSavannah Michaelsen Lewis earned a B.S. from the University of Southern Mississippi and M.S. in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana. Prior to entering the VIMS graduate program, she investigated the effects of the Deep Horizon oil spill on Menidia beryllina in the Gulf of Mexico and the spatio-temporal variability in the genetic stock structure of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) across the northern Gulf of Mexico. For her research program at VIMS, she analyzed the genetic stock of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in Chesapeake Bay in order to evaluate connectivity among subestuaries and test the feasibility of a new abundance estimation method. Savannah has a first authored peer-reviewed publication and has received numerous awards and recognitions for her research, including an International Women’s Fishing Association Scholarship. She has given numerous scientific presentations at scientific conferences. She is currently employed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where she helps manage commercial permitted fisheries including striped bass. Her advisor is John Graves, Department of Fisheries Science. 

Bethany L. Williams

Ms. Bethany WilliamsBethany Williams earned a B.S. in Biological Science from Florida State University. Prior to beginning her degree program at VIMS, Bethany gained research experience as an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates Summer Intern at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA and taught science to middle and high school students. Her Master’s research focused on the role of ecology in saltmarsh geomorphic processes. Bethany has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and research grants, such as a Coastal Wetlands Scholarship by the Garden Club of America (2016) and a Virginia Sea Grant Fellowship (2017-2018). She has two co-authored peer-reviewed publications and has made numerous professional presentations. Bethany also served as a research mentor for an undergraduate in the VIMS NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. She is currently a Sea Grant-Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at NOAA. Her advisor is David Johnson, Department of Biological Sciences.

Shanna C. Williamson

Ms. Shanna Williamson.Shanna Williamson earned her B.A. in Geosciences from Skidmore College. Prior to beginning her Master’s program, she gained experience as a research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and as an intern at the Southern California Earthquake Center. Her research at VIMS focuses on the impacts of land use and climate change on streamflow and watershed delivery of nutrients. She has made fifteen scientific presentations in the U.S. and abroad and has two peer-reviewed scientific publications, one as first author and one she co-authored. Shanna has received numerous grants and awards as a graduate student, including a W&M IDEA grant and a Best Graduate Student Oral Presentation award at NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program 7th Biennial Education and Science Forum Conference. Beyond her research, publications and conference presentations, Shanna served as a student representative for the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation’s Broadening Participation Council, developing and implementing CERF’s Rising TIDES mentoring program, and at VIMS, as a student representative on the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. Her advisor is Mark Brush, Department of Biological Sciences.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science
Ann M. Arfken

Dr. Ann Arfken.Ann Arfken earned a B.S. in Zoology from Miami University, J.D. from Wake Forest University, and M.S. in Marine Science from UNC-Wilmington. She worked as an attorney for three years before beginning her graduate education in marine science. Ann’s research interests are in the areas of molecular microbial ecology and bioinformatics, microbiomes and metagenomes, environmental pollution and human health. She was selected to participate in the 5th International Course in Microbial Ecology in Italy, CNR-ISMAR in 2014 and has received numerous fellowships from the VIMS Foundation to support her doctoral studies. Ann is first author of three peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented her research at professional conferences across the U.S. Her advisor is B.K. Song, Department of Biological Sciences.

William Goldsmith

Dr. William Goldsmith.William Goldsmith earned his B.A. in History from Harvard University, with a minor in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Prior to entering the doctoral program at VIMS, he gained considerable experience in marine science and policy areas by holding fellowships, internships or research assistant positions with organizations such as WHOI and Conservation International. His interdisciplinary doctoral research combined economic and fishery science approaches to evaluate the motivation and values of Atlantic Bluefin tuna anglers and post-release mortality of recreationally-caught tuna. Among his many awards and grants, Willy was recognized with the Matthew Fontaine Maury Student Fellowship Award (2016) and received a NMFS-Sea Grant Marine Resource Economics Fellowship (2015-2017). He is author or co-author of two peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented his research at professional conferences across the U.S. and abroad. In addition, he has written over 60 articles for popular recreational and commercial fishing magazines concerning fisheries science and management. He also served as a student representative to the VIMS Admission Committee and co-chair of the Professional Development Committee of the VIMS Graduate Student Association. Willy is currently a Sea Grant-Knauss Fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). His co-advisors are John Graves and Andrew Scheld, Department of Fisheries Science.

Quang C. Huynh

Quang C. HuynhQuang Huynh earned a B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College. Prior to entering the doctoral program at VIMS, Quang served for three years as a research assistant for the Hudson River Foundation. His research interests are in the development and evaluation of fisheries stock assessment methods and management procedures, data-limited assessment methods, ecological modeling and the statistical analysis for ecological data. In addition to receiving a VIMS Foundation fellowship and the John M. and Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award (2018), Quang was the recipient of a NMFS-Sea Grant Population and Ecosystem Dynamics Fellowship (2015-2018). He was also invited to participate in various International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) working groups that are focused on improving management of data-limited fisheries. Quang is author or co-author of four peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented his research at numerous professional conferences. He also served as a student representative to the VIMS Academic Council. He is currently employed as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia. His advisor is John Hoenig, Department of Fisheries Science.

Darbi R. Jones

Dr. Darbi Jones.Darbi Jones earned a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Miami. Prior to entering the doctoral program at VIMS, Darbi gained considerable experience in the areas of environmental science and aquatic animal health by holding internships or researcher positions with organizations such as Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Miami and Disney World. Her doctoral research focuses on how vaccines and genetic disease resistance drive pathogen transmission in rainbow trout in single and mixed infections. Darbi’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, multiple VIMS Foundation fellowships, and by an equipment trust fund grant from VIMS. She is co-author of peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented her research at professional meetings across the U.S. In her spare time, she does research with the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Darbi plans to continue her study of infectious diseases and aquatic animal health at veterinary school. Her advisor is Andrew Wargo, Department of Aquatic Health Sciences.

Zhuo Liu

Dr. Zhuo Liu.Zhuo Liu earned a B.S. in Marine Science from Xiamen University. Prior to entering the doctoral program at VIMS, he gained experience as an undergraduate researcher and contributed to a numerical modeling study of vocalizations in seals that led to a co-authorship on a published paper. Since arriving at VIMS, Zhuo has participated in diverse projects, with his research interests focused on developing and applying advanced numerical models to challenging problems in hydrodynamics, tracer transport, storm surge inundation, wind wave and current interaction, and water quality. His expertise enabled him to precisely predict coastal storm surge and accurately model New York City inundation caused by Hurricane Sandy. He is author or co-author of four peer-reviewed journal articles. Zhuo is currently employed by the Texas Water Development Board in Austin. His advisor is Harry Wang, Department of Physical Sciences.

Nadya R. Mamoozadeh

Dr. Nadya Mamoozadeh.Nadya Mamoozadeh earned a B.S. in Biology from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and M.S. in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. She came to VIMS after working for a year as a research technician at the Cystic Fibrosis Center at UNC-Chapel Hill and as an instructor for two years at Johnston Community College. Her research interests include the application of genomic tools to explore ecological and evolutionary processes in marine and freshwater fishes, neutral and adaptive genetic variation, intra- and inter-specific relationships, and gene expression. In addition to numerous fellowships and research grants, Nadya was awarded the Matthew Fontaine Maury Fellowship (2014) and a Virginia Sea Grant Fellowship (2016-2018). She is first author of four peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented her research at professional conferences across the U.S. She also served as a member of the VIMS Graduate Student Association, first as Treasurer and then as President, and was a Teaching Fellow for the W&M Undergraduate Program in Marine Science. Nadya is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University. Her advisors are John Graves and Jan McDowell, Department of Fisheries Science.

Benjamin Marcek

Dr. Ben Marcek.Benjamin Marcek earned a B.S. in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of New Hampshire and M.S. in Marine Science from William & Mary. He developed an interest in marine science and fisheries as an undergraduate while working as a research assistant in the aquaculture research facility and lobster ecology laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. His doctoral research, which has focused on the individual- and population-level effects of temperature and hypoxia on Atlantic croaker and spot in the Chesapeake Bay, has implications for fisheries management in the context of climate-driven changes in environmental conditions. Among numerous fellowships, awards and grants, Ben received a Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Grant, a NMFS-Sea Grant Population and Ecosystem Dynamics Fellowship (2014-2017) and was offered a Virginia Sea Grant Fellowship (2014-2017) that he could not accept. He is a first or co-author of six peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented his research at professional conferences across the U.S. During his time at VIMS, Ben also participated in the NSF-sponsored GK-12 PERFECT program as a “scientist in residence” at a regional high school and served as a student representative to the Academic Council. His advisor is Mary Fabrizio, Department of Fisheries Science.

Julia M. Moriarty

Dr. Julia MoriartyJulia Moriarty earned a B.A. in Physics and B.S. in Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago and M.S. in Marine Science from William & Mary. As an undergraduate, Julia gained experience during summer internships at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and at VIMS where she participated in the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Her doctoral research focused on modeling hydrodynamic, sediment transport and biogeochemical processes in coastal waters, including the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico and Rhone River delta, France. Julia was awarded the John M. and Marilyn Zeigler Student Achievement Award (2013), the Student Modeler Award from the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) Group, the Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing from the American Geophysical Union, and an East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, among other grants and awards. She has made many professional presentations in the U.S. and abroad, including as an invited speaker and has four first or co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles. Beyond her research, publications and conference presentations, Julia served as a student representative on many VIMS committees and was one of the first peer advisors for the School of Marine Science Ombuds team. Julia is currently a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole. Her co-advisors are Courtney Harris, Department of Physical Sciences, and Marjy Friedrichs, Department of Biological Sciences.

Patricia A. O'Leary

Dr. Patricia O'Leary.Patricia O'Leary earned a B.S in Biology with a minor in Asian Studies from Randolph-Macon College, and M.S. in Biology from Georgia Southern University. Prior to starting graduate school, Pattie gained experience as a marine science instructor at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Florida. Her doctoral research focuses on disease processes in crustaceans. In addition to presenting her research at national conferences, Pattie has five first or co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles. She is the recipient of a VIMS Student Research Grant. Pattie also participated in the NSF-sponsored GK-12 PERFECT program as a “scientist in residence” at a regional middle school, has served as a research mentor for undergraduate students at Georgia Southern University and VIMS, and was a Teaching Fellow for the W&M Undergraduate Program in Marine Science. She also served as the chair of the School of Marine Science Honor Council. Her advisor is Jeff Shields, Department of Aquatic Health Sciences.

Adela Roa-Varon

Dr. Adela Roa-Varon.Adela Roa-Varon earned a B.S. in Ichthyology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to entering the graduate program at VIMS, Adela gained experience as a research associate at Makuriwa Museo de Historia Natural Marina de Colombia (INVEMAR), a research technician at UNC-Wilmington and a molecular lab technician working on the Euteleost Tree of Life EToL) project at The George Washington University. Her doctoral research focuses on using genomics and morphology to study the evolutionary relationships (systematic) among gadiform fishes (cods, haddocks, rattails and their allies). Adela has received many awards and grants, including an East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, a Lakeside Foundation Grant from the California Academy of Sciences, an NSF doctoral dissertation grant, and the John E. Olney Sr. Ichthyology Award from VIMS. Adela has nine first or co-authored peer-reviewed publications and has given many professional presentations in the U.S. and abroad. Beyond her research, publications and conference presentations, Adela served as the VIMS International Student Representative and as a member of the W&M International Student Advisory Board. She is currently a pre-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. Her advisor is Eric Hilton, Department of Fisheries Science.

Christopher J. Sweetman

Dr. CJ Sweetman.CJ Sweetman earned a B.S. in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of New Hampshire and M.S. from William & Mary. Before coming to VIMS, CJ gained experience in the collection and identification of meso- and bathypelagic fishes in the Northeast and Southeast Atlantic Ocean and at-sea extraction, isolation, and sequencing of invertebrate and vertebrate DNA while serving as a molecular genetics research specialist at the University of Connecticut. For his doctoral research, CJ initiated and coordinated field surveys to investigative feeding selectivity patterns of predatory fishes in Chesapeake Bay using bottom and midwater trawls, benthic grabs and plankton nets. He has significant shipboard experience in support of the Northeast Area and Chesapeake Bay Multispecies Monitoring and Assessment Programs (NEAMAP, ChesMMAP), VIMS’ shark longline survey, and the NRDA Offshore Deep Meso- and Bathypelagic Assessment following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CJ is first or co-author on four peer-reviewed journal articles and has made numerous presentations at professional conferences. His advisor is Rob Latour, Department of Fisheries Science.

Fei Ye

Fei YeFei Ye earned a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Hohai University, China and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Prior to entering the graduate program at VIMS, Fei gained experience by serving as a laboratory assistant at State Key Laboratory of Environmental Aquatic Chemistry, and State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His higher education and career goals concern the management of riverine/coastal resources, which has long been a pressing issue in most parts of the world and in his home country, China. His doctoral research focused on developing novel numerical approaches to model river-estuarine-plume-shelf systems, including the Chesapeake Bay and systems as diverse as the Columbia River, San Francisco Bay, and Black Sea. Fei is the recipient of a VIMS Foundation Board fellowship and a travel grant from the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories. In addition, he is first or co-author on sixteen peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented at numerous professional conferences. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the VIMS Center for Coastal Resource Management where he is involved in developing next-generation hydrodynamic models. His co-advisors are Joseph Zhang, Department of Physical Sciences and Center for Coastal Resource Management and Harry Wang, Department of Physical Sciences.