VIMS grad students celebrate commencement

  • 2019 VIMS Grads
    2019 VIMS Grads  The six recipients of diplomas during VIMS' May 11th commencement ceremony gather for a photo with VIMS Dean and Director John Wells (L) and Associate Dean of Academic Studies Linda Schaffner (R). From L: Mr. Chase Long, Ms. Kelley Uhlig, Ms. Kristen Bachand, Dr. Amanda Knobloch, Dr. Qubin Qin, and Dr. Andrew "AJ" Johnson.  © Nicholas Meyer/W&M.
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Seven graduate students from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science received their diplomas in the company of family, friends, and faculty advisors during William & Mary’s commencement ceremony on May 11th.

Graduate Chase Long (R) with VIMS Dean and Director John Wells (L) during the VIMS Diploma ceremony. © N. Meyer/W&M.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.”

In her remarks during the diploma ceremony, Professor Linda Schaffner, Associate Dean of Academic Studies at VIMS, Dr. Linda Schaffner, Associate Dean of Academic Studies at VIMS, addresses the graduating students and other audience members during the VIMS Diploma Ceremony on May 11th.cited W&M commencement speaker Glenn Close, who described the challenges that social media brings to today's graduates.

"You have a much harder time of it now than I ever had," said Close. "When I graduated, there was no... Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I did not have the added enormous pressure of social media against which to develop as an adult... I didn't have that insistent, seductive noise in my pocket and at my fingertips."

"This generation has faced unprecedented distractions," echoed Schaffner. "And your presence here today shows that you were able—with the help of advisors, colleagues, friends, and family—to focus in on a single body of work and persevere to its completion."

Schaffner added, “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. I’m sure this year’s students will continue that tradition, and help to advance both our field and the reputation of VIMS and the School of Marine Science.”

Celebrating commencement with Dr. Qubin Qin (holding diploma) are (from L) his father Zhaohui Qin, his Ph.D. advisor Dr. Jian Shen, his mother Xiaohong Ni,  and his uncle Weidong Ni. Qin's family traveled to the ceremony from Anhui province, China. © N. Meyer/W&M.During their time at VIMS, members of this year's graduating class earned a number of fellowships, accolades, and awards. Highlights include

  • Commonwealth Coastal & Marine Policy Fellowship (Bachand)
  • Nancy S. and Henry George Fellow­ship (Knobloch)
  • Two Knauss Fellowships (Long, Uhlig)
  • Nichols Student Travel Fellowship (Qin)
  • Rouse-Bottom Fellowship (Knobloch)
  • VIMS Council Fellowship (Knobloch)
  • Virginia Sea Grant Program Development Award (Bachand)
  • William & Mary's Inter­national Student Achievement Award (Qin)
  • Willard A. Van Engel Fellowship (Bachand)
  • GK-12/Short Trust Fund Fellow (Knobloch)

Including those who graduated in August 2018, this semester's commencement group—with 8 master’s and 7 Ph.D. awardees in W&M’s School of Marine Science at VIMS—brings the total number of degrees earned by VIMS students to 1,061—comprising 650 master’s theses and 411 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.

2019 Graduates
Master of Science in Marine Science
Kristen Bachand

Ms. Kristen Bachand

Kristen Bachand earned a B.S. in Marine Biology from Brown University. Prior to starting the Master’s program at VIMS, she completed two NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and VIMS. Her Master’s project combined the use of satellite imagery and field surveys to examine how changes in seagrass beds affect juvenile blue crabs. Kristen served as the VIMS Sail and Paddle Club President (2016-18) and as the teaching assistant for the REU Program and the Interdisciplinary Research in Estuarine and Coastal Systems course. Graduate Kristen Bachand (C) with her parents Ginny and Greg Bachand following the VIMS Diploma ceremony. © N. Meyer/W&M.She was the recipient of the Willard A. Van Engel Fellowship (2017-2019) and a Virginia Sea Grant Program Development award. Kristen also presented her work at the 2019 Benthic Ecology Meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. She will begin the Commonwealth Coastal & Marine Policy Fellowship, sponsored by Virginia Sea Grant and the Virginia Environmental Endowment, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission this summer. Her advisor is Rom Lipcius, Department of Fisheries Science.

Chase Long

Mr. Chase Long.Chase Long earned a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Coastal Biology from the University of North Florida. He investigated the toxicological impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on large epipelagic sharks and fish prior to moving to Virginia to work in Dr. Roger Mann’s Molluscan Ecology lab. Chase began his work in the lab as a technician on the oyster survey and soon began to study the age and growth of surf clams, ocean quahogs, and sea scallops. Chase supported lab operations by collecting and processing specimens obtained from commercial fishing vessels during more than 75 days at sea. He worked to refine age and growth methods for the lab and contributed to several manuscripts and presentations while working there. Chase matriculated at the VIMS School of Marine Science in 2017 and continued his work on the age and growth of young ocean quahogs as a student. In 2019, he began a Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship in Washington, D.C. in the office of NOAA’s Chief Data Officer. His advisor is Roger Mann, Department of Fisheries Science.

Kelley Uhlig

Ms. Kelley Uhlig

Kelley Uhlig earned her B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Florida, where she was recognized for excellence in undergraduate research for her work investigating the properties of rare-earth doped glasses. She turned her focus away from inorganic chemistry and toward the environment and participated in a week-long cruise along the St. John’s River investigating relationships between Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and water quality in Florida’s springs. Graduate Kelley Uhlig (R) with her Master's advisor Rob Hale (L) following the VIMS Diploma ceremony. © N. Meyer/W&M.Prior to beginning at VIMS, she hiked over 2000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Her research at VIMS focused on the partitioning of persistent organic pollutants to different types of microplastics, including two types of bio-based plastics that had yet to be scrutinized in this way. Her research also delved into the microbial growth on these microplastics when they enter the estuarine environment. From this work, two peer-reviewed publications are in preparation. Kelley has also presented this work at several conferences. Kelley is currently a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at NOAA, where she is delving into learning about the Arctic and the world of open ocean observing. Her advisor is Robert Hale, Department of Aquatic Health Sciences.

Dual Masters in Marine Science and Public Policy
Taylor Goelz

Goelz 2017Taylor Goelz earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of San Diego in 2014 where she was awarded the Alice B. Hayes Women in Science Scholarship. While there, she participated in a study abroad program on the island of South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos provided through The School for Field Studies. After serving as a Research Assistant on an NOAA-funded project at the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station in 2014, she entered the graduate program at VIMS in 2015 and later became a joint VIMS/W&M masters in Marine Science and Public Policy student in 2016. At VIMS, she served as a graduate research assistant working on the National Science Foundation's Coastal SEES-funded OysterFutures participatory modeling process. Goelz also served as a summer Policy Intern with NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Program in 2017. At William & Mary, she worked on a research project commissioned by Virginia Sea Grant and Wetlands Watch on a "blueprint" for Hampton Roads, VA communities to handle the impacts of sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Goelz also participated in VIMS' Graduate Student Association and served on the Best Student Paper Award committee. Her advisor is Troy Hartley, Department of Fisheries Science and Director of Virginia Sea Grant. Goelz was unable to attend the May 2019 graduation event.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science
Andrew Johnson

Dr. Andrew Johnson.

Andrew "AJ" Johnson earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Virginia in 2011. After spending a year in Germany with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, AJ entered the graduate program at VIMS in 2012 to study the ecology and restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). He completed his M.S. in Marine Science at VIMS in 2015 and transitioned into the doctoral program. Dr. Andrew "AJ" Johnson (L) with his Ph.D. advisor Robert "JJ" Orth (R) following the VIMS Diploma ceremony. © N. Meyer/W&M.For his dissertation, he investigated unexplored impacts of biological interactions on the survival of SAV seeds and seedlings and completed a Marine Policy sub-concentration. He served as the student representative on the VIMS Academic Council from 2017-2019 and was active on the VIMS Green Team. During his master’s thesis and dissertation, he was fortunate to conduct additional SAV ecology and restoration research with Dr. Gary Kendrick and Dr. John Statton at the University of Western Australia in Perth. AJ’s next step is to attend Law School at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Robert Orth and Dr. Kenneth Moore served as his primary advisors during his seven years of study in the Department of Biological Sciences at VIMS.

Amanda Knobloch

Dr. Amanda Knobloch.

Amanda L.J. Knobloch earned a B.S. in Marine Science with a minor in Chemistry from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Prior to completing her bachelor’s work at Rutgers, she interned at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama to study the stable isotopic composition of oyster shells that were exposed to the 2011 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This work resulted in her first peer-reviewed journal publication as a second author. Her research interests include the application of chemical biomarkers to identify chemical exchanges, organic matter composition, and transformation processes; the use of innovative techniques to study ecosystem control points; and the effects that climate change may have on coastal ecosystems. While at VIMS, she was awarded several fellowships and grants, including the VIMS Council Fellowship, the Nancy S. and Henry George Fellowship, and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Rouse-Bottom Fellowship. She has been extensively involved in academic and outreach programs, serving as the teaching assistant for three courses in the W&M Undergraduate Program in Marine Science for five years, working at York High School as part of the GK-12/Short Trust Fund program, and volunteering through opportunities such as Blue Crab Bowl, Marine Science Day, and Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Discovery Labs. Her advisor is Elizabeth Canuel, Department of Physical Sciences.Following the VIMS Diploma ceremony, Dr. Amanda Knobloch (C) celebrates with (from L) her Ph.D. advisor Dr. Elizabeth Canuel, her father John Jones, her spouse Kelsey Knobloch, and her mother Janis Teas. © N. Meyer/W&M.

Qubin Qin

Dr. Qubin Qin

Qubin Qin earned a B.S. in Geography from Nanjing University, China, and a M.S. in Marine Science from VIMS. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program at VIMS, Qubin worked for one year as a research assistant at Sanya Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research interests focus on physical-biological interactions within estuaries, particularly in how physical transport processes shape water quality by influencing biological and chemical processes, including eutrophication, degradation of the benthic community, and harmful algal blooms. His interdisciplinary doctoral research improves our understanding of how physical-transport processes impact the variability of algal biomass—the timing, location, and extent of HABs in an estuary. Qubin was awarded the International Student Achievement Award from William & Mary and the Nichols Student Travel Fellowship. He is first author of three peer-reviewed journal articles and is second author of one article and has presented his research at numerous professional conferences. He also served as an international student representative of the VIMS Graduate Student Association. Qubin is currently a postdoctoral research associate at VIMS. His advisor is Jian Shen, Department of Physical Sciences.

Other Graduates

The following students graduated in August 2018 and did not participate in either the 2018 or 2019 graduation ceremonies.

Master of Science in Marine Science
Lauren Huey

Lauren Huey earned a B.S. in Marine Science from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in 2015. The title of her thesis is "Reproductive Investment in Crassostrea virginica as an Indicator of a Tolerance Response to Perkinsus marinus." Her advisor is Ryan Carnegie, Department of Aquatic Health Sciences. She is currently a science communicator with the Institute for Biohealth Innovation at George Mason University.

Douglas Jensen

Douglas Jensen is a graduate of both the University of Wisconsin and Trident University, where he earned an MBA. He served as a Communication and Information Officer in the United States Air Force from 2008 until 2015. The title of his thesis is "Movements, Habitat Utilization, and Post-Release Survival of Cobia (Rachycentron canadum) that Summer in Virginia Waters Determined Using Pop-Up Satellite Archival Tags (PSATs)." His advisor is John Graves, Department of Fisheries Science.

Julie Krask

Julie Krask earned a B.A in Biology with a minor in Marine Science from William & Mary in 2015. The title of her thesis is "Beach-Ridge Sedimentology as an Archive of Terrestrial Climate Change: Insights from Geochemical and Stratigraphic Study of the Tijucas Strandplain, Southern Brazil." Her advisor is Christopher Hein, Department of Physical Sciences.

Joseph Matt

Joseph Matt completed his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University, through which he participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at VIMS. Prior to starting graduate studies in 2015, Matt was a Tetraploid Technologist with the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center at VIMS. His thesis title is "The Relationship Between Reproduction and Mortality in Triploid Crassostrea virginica." His advisor is Standish Allen, Department of Fisheries Science. He is currently enrolled at VIMS as a Ph.D. student.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science
Lisa Ailloud

ailloudLisa Ailloud began her Ph.D. studies at VIMS in 2012. The title of her dissertation is "Improving Stock Assessments and Management Advice for Bluefin Tunas and Other Highly Migratory Species." She was the recipient of VIMS' Ziegler Student Achievement Award for 2018. Her advisor is John Hoenig, Department of Fisheries Science.

Robert Isdell

Robert Isdell earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina in 2010 and completed a M.S. in Biology from William & Mary 2014. The title of his dissertation is "Shifting Patterns of Ribbed Mussel Distribution and Ecosystem Services in Response to Sea Level Rise." His advisors are Donna Bilkovic and Carl Hershner, Department of Biological Sciences. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the Center for Coastal Resources Management at VIMS.

Molly Mitchell

Molly Mitchell earned a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from William & Mary in 1999 and completed her M.S. in Marine Science from VIMS in 2003. The title of her dissertation is "Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Tidal Wetland Extent and Distribution." Her advisors are Carl Hershner and Donna Bilkovic, Department of Biological Sciences. She is a Marine Scientist with the Center for Coastal Resources Management at VIMS.

Itchika Sivaipram

Itchika Sivaipram began her graduate studies at VIMS in 2010. The title of her dissertation is "Crab Larval Abundance and Settlement Patterns in a Changing Chesapeake Bay." Her advisor is Linda Schaffner, Department of Biological Sciences.