Newest graduate school class begins studies at VIMS

  • 2018 Class  The matriculating SMS class of 2018. From left: Shantelle Richards, Alexander Smith, Stephanie Peart, Matthew Fair, Kayla Martinez-Soto, Michelle Woods, Jackson Martinez, Cristin Wright, Kristen Sharpe, Derek Detweiler, Anthony Himes, and Jilian Xiong. Missing: Nicole Cai and Joseph Matt.  Photo by Chris Katella/VIMS.
  • Convocation 2018  Members of the matriculating class of 2018 pose in front of the historic Wren Building on William & Mary's main campus before the start of convocation.  Photo by Paula Dye/VIMS.
  • Convocation 2018  VIMS graduate students Alexander Smith, Cristin Wright, Stephanie Peart, and Kayla Martinez-Soto are welcomed by the William & Mary community during the annual convocation ceremony in Williamsburg, VA.  Photo by Chris Katella/VIMS
  • New Student Orientation  VIMS Dean & Director John Wells welcomes students at the start of their orientation.  Photo by Chris Katella/VIMS
Photo - of -

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science welcomed 14 new graduate students to its Gloucester Point campus late last month. With their arrival, enrollment at William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS now stands at 78 students.

After thorough consideration from the graduate-selection committee, the 2018 incoming class consists of 9 master’s students and 5 doctoral students. Of these, 3 are from Virginia, 10 are from another state, and 1 is an international student. 

“This incoming class of graduate students brings diverse experiences and research interests to our campus,” says Professor Linda Schaffner, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at VIMS. “We are excited to see how their perspectives will further enrich our program at VIMS.”

The new students bring a remarkable list of both academic and personal achievements. Students in the matriculating class of 2018 have conducted research around the globe, gained certification as open-water divers, authored academic articles, and held leadership positions on athletic and educational teams.

"Our incoming students have distinguished themselves as community and scientific stewards, helping to improve the world around them,” says Schaffner.

An acclaimed roster of researchers
Nicole X. Cai

Nicole Cai is continuing her studies at VIMS as a doctoral student after completing her Master’s degree earlier this year, studying the impact of submerged aquatic vegetation on water quality in San Francisco Bay. Her work at VIMS was partly supported by an International Fellowship at Germany’s University of Oldenburg from 2017-18. She earned her undergraduate degree from Nanjing University in China.

Derek Detweiler

Derek Detweiler comes to VIMS from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. While there, he served as Vice President of the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences’ Graduate Student Association and was a Coach and Facilitator for UNCW’s Regional Science Olympiad.

Matthew Fair

Matthew Fair participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment while a student at UNCW. He also completed a summer internship with NOAA in 2015.

Anthony Himes
ThumbnailAnthony Himes joined the lab of VIMS Assistant Professor Emily Rivest earlier this year to assist in a study of the link between water conditions and oyster growth. A graduate of the University of New England, he has been a lead author on a published journal article and is currently a NOAA Ocean Acidification Fellow.
Jackson Martinez

jackson_100.pngJackson Martinez arrives at VIMS from Texas A&M-Galveston where he was a NOAA Fisheries observer for oil-platform removals in the Gulf of Mexico. An aquatic animal life support operator, he is also certified in offshore water survival, Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), and open-water diving.

Kayla Martinez-Soto

thumbKayla Martinez-Soto, a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, was a 2017 undergraduate research fellow at UC-San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography. She has joined Assistant Professor David Johnson’s J-Lab studying how global change affects ecosystems and their plant and animal inhabitants.

Joseph Matt

Joseph Matt is continuing his studies at VIMS after receiving his Master’s degree earlier this year. He was a member of the VIMS REU class of 2012, and began his graduate studies at VIMS after graduating from Wake Forest University in 2015. He serves as a Tetraploid Technologist with VIMS’ Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center and is a scientific consultant for production and maintenance of tetraploid oysters.

Stephanie Peart

peart_100.pngStephanie Peart, a graduate of Stockton University, was an REU student at the Bigelow Lab in Maine from 2016-17 and participated in a cruise supporting the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Ocean Time-series. She holds a certification in open-water SCUBA diving.

Shantelle Richards

meShantelle Richards, a graduate of Roger Williams University, was an education intern for Save the Bay Exploration Center in Newport, Rhode Island. She also served as the captain of the RWU women’s swim team and holds a PADI open-water dive certification.

Kristen Sharpe

sharpe_100.pngKristen Sharpe most recently was a Marine Education Specialist with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia. Based at VIMS’ Gloucester Point campus, she organized educational public programs including monthly Discovery Labs and annual summer camps. A graduate of SUNY-ESF, she also has served as a co-PI for grant-funded projects involving science education.

Alexander Smith

Alexander Smith participated as a field-site intern with UNC’s Coastal Studies Institute during his undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Michelle Woods

michelle woodsMichelle Woods, a graduate of Allegheny College, was a Research Associate at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Cristin Wright

cwrightCristin Wright was part of VIMS’ 2016 REU program, conducting research with the Coastal Hydrodynamics & Sediment Dynamics lab group under Professor Carl Friedrichs and Dr. Grace Massey. A graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy, she holds a Merchant Mariner Credential.

Jilian Xiong

xiong_100.pngJilian Xiong comes to VIMS from China where she recently graduated from Nanjing University. A first author on two journal articles, she spent a semester studying in Taiwan and participated in the TOP Brazil-China student exchange program.

William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS

One of W&M’s five graduate and professional programs, the School of Marine Science at VIMS includes 4 academic departments (Aquatic Health Sciences, Biological Sciences, Fisheries Science, and Physical Sciences) and confers both MS and PhD degrees in marine science.

The School of Marine Science at VIMS has granted more than 1,000 graduate degrees, making it one of the largest marine science graduate programs in the United States. SMS graduates have achieved diverse career paths in colleges and universities, government agencies, consulting firms, marine education and outreach organizations, NGOs, and industry around the world. A significant percentage of SMS graduates occupy research, management, and policy positions in federal agencies such as NOAA, NMFS, EPA, and USGS. More than 90% of SMS graduates have a job in the field of marine science at the time of graduation.