My name is Collin Dobson and I am a graduate of the marine science program at Rutgers University, class of 2015. I chose to attend Rutgers University after touring the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) and witnessing all of the awesome research that was happening there. At the time I had hoped to eventually get involved with some of this research but figured it wouldn’t be possible until the latter part of my undergraduate career. Little did I know just how quickly I would be able to get my feet wet and my hands dirty.
My very first class at Rutgers was called Oceanography House and at the first meeting I was paired with an upperclassmen mentor that took me under his wing and gave me a crash course on all things Rutgers. I cannot stress enough just how helpful this was as it made my transition into college much smoother than it would have otherwise been. This was a research-based course and with this mentor, and a few other undergraduate classmates, I was able to complete my first research project. By using glider data to examine warm and cold water eddies in the Atlantic Ocean we were able to use real data to help study a real feature of the ocean. As a first semester freshman, this was almost unheard of. Believe it or not (at the time I couldn’t), within my first month as an undergrad was on a boat and helping recover a glider in the Atlantic Ocean.
After these hands-on experiences in my first semester at IMCS, I was completely hooked and continued to take the undergraduate research classes offered within IMCS. Each semester was a completely different experience than the last, which allowed me to develop a diverse skillset. The knowledge I gained from these various research projects helped me land my first professional internship in the summer after my sophomore year. As an intern in the Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (RUCOOL), working with Dr. John Manderson (NOAA) and Dr. Josh Kohut (RUCOOL), I helped research the potential effects of a warming ocean on butterfish habitat selection in the mid-Atlantic. At the end of this very rewarding summer internship I was able to present my work at the 2012 CINAR meeting held at Woods Hole.
After this internship I continued to take the undergraduate research classes but the tables turned and I was now a mentor and leader of a small research team. It was an incredible experience to be able to return the favor and help out other undergrads the same way I had been helped out just two years prior.
The next summer I was able to land another professional internship as a Teledyne Webb intern at RUCOOL. For this internship I utilized glider data to analyze the validity of ocean forecasting models in regards to temperature, salinity, and surface current predictions. I was fortunate enough to be selected to present two abstracts pertaining to this research at the 2013 Marine Technology Society meeting in San Diego, California.
In my final summer as an undergraduate in the marine science program I was selected to participate in the Research in Ocean Sciences program (RIOS) with Dr. Daphne Munroe at the Rutgers University Haskin Shellfish Research Lab. As a RIOS intern I was funded by the National Science Foundation to complete an independent research project for which I studied the population connectivity of waved whelk in the mid-Atlantic. I was fortunate enough to present my project at the 2014 American Fisheries Society meeting in Lewes Delaware and also take home the first place prize in a student poster competition.
When my undergraduate career was all said and done, I had participated in about 25 glider deployment/recoveries, numerous research projects, 3 professional internships, and attend multiple professional conferences.
My valuable experiences at Rutgers were not limited to just academia and also involved many extracurricular activities. As a freshman I immediately got involved with the Oceanography Club on campus, which was one of the best decisions I could have made. By being an active member and officer in this club I was able to participate in many trips including two to the Florida Keys to participate in coral restoration and fish observation volunteer projects.
So, if you are reading this as a prospective Rutgers University student with interest in the marine sciences and you value research and the ability to get involved as an undergrad, then I strongly recommend that you choose Rutgers. The opportunities for undergraduates of the Rutgers University marine science department are practically limitless. From my very first day I was involved with hands-on, practical, and real scientific projects. I am extremely grateful for all the experience and knowledge that I gained. Time there has fully prepared me for the next step in my career. I have recently begun working as a physical scientist technician with the United States Naval Oceanographic Office. Stationed at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, I am responsible for piloting gliders all over the world.