Master of Professional Science

Our Students

So, where have some of our students gone to complete their internships? What did their projects entail? Read on to find out more about our exceptional students and the impacts they’ve had in their fields of interest…


Amanda Short – Class of 2013
Track: Weather, Climate, & Society
Hosting Organization: Everglades National Park
Internship Project: “I work as a climate change intern with the Science Communications team at Everglades National Park. My main duties include expanding the breadth of climate change information available on park websites, creating signage to highlight mitigation strategies employed by the park, and creating climate change related activities suitable for the Jr. Ranger program.


Audra Burchfield – Class of 2013
Track: Marine Conservation
Hosting Organization: Key Biscayne Community Foundation
Internship Project: “I am interning with the Key Biscayne Community Foundation assisting with the creation of a Citizen Scientist Project. I am working with children and adults, educating them about the unique environments on Key Biscayne, why these places are so important to the residents of Key Biscayne, and getting the residents involved in the science necessary to maintain ecosystem health.”


Matthew Gabrielli
Track: Aquaculture
Hosting Organization: Open Blue Sea Farms
Internship Project: “I am fulfilling my internship with Open Blue Sea Farms, an open ocean aquaculture firm based in Panama. My project involves documenting the planning, construction and protocols of Open Blue’s new, custom-designed hatchery and nursery facility in Viento Frio, Panama. The hatchery will produce cobia fingerlings, a species for which there is little to no precedent on the scale/feasibility level that Open Blue is striving for.”


Asta Mail
Track: Marine Conservation
Hosting Organization: Pangea Explorations
Internship Project: “I am working as the Great Lakes Expedition Coordinator for Pangaea Explorations, a not for profit research expedition organization based out of Miami. I have spent the last 2 months sailing throughout the Great Lakes with an assorted crew of researchers, students, artists and educators, studying important lakes issues, such as as micro plastic pollution, Persistant Organic Chemical Pollution, and dissolved carbon dioxide levels in lake water. I have gained invaluable sail experience while on board and am thrilled to be collecting research on behalf of the University of Western Michigan, the University of Wisconsin Superior, SUNY Fredonia University and the Ministry of Environment Ontario.”


Cylia Civelek
Track: Marine Mammal Science
Hosting Organization: Miami Seaquarium
Internship Project: “I am currently completing an internship at the Miami Seaquarium under the supervision of Dr. Maya Rodriguez, the facility’s veterinarian. In addition to assisting with veterinary procedures, I am working on my project for the MPS degree, which involves recording and analyzing West Indian manatee vocals with a hydrophone. Currently, the Miami Seaquarium houses nine West Indian manatees, both male and female, ranging from just over a year old to 55-years-old. I am investigating variations in West Indian manatee vocals with age and sex, as well as time of day, and the effect of food on vocalization type and frequency.”


Jennifer Dean - Class of 2013
Track: Marine Conservation
Hosting Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Internship Project: “I am currently working with The Nature Conservancy North Carolina Chapter to design a community outreach campaign geared towards young people.”


Mary Trainor – Class of 2013
Track: Marine Conservation
Hosting Organization: Environmental Defense Fund
Internship Project: “I am currently working on two projects while interning at the Environmental Defense Fund in San Francisco, CA.  First, I am developing an incentive-based habitat protection policy to increase habitat productivity in U.S. waters.  Secondly, I am mapping out the governance of small-scale Spanish fisheries in the Mediterranean and comparing them to Nobel Prize winner Eleanor Ostrom's ideals for common pool resource management.”


Natalie Harrison – Class of 2013
Track: Joint J.D./M.P.S.
Hosting Organization: Department of Justice
Internship Project: “I am an intern at the Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Section in Washington, D.C. I conduct legal research for attorneys who are responsible for enforcing federal environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Superfund cleanup. One of the more exciting cases I am working on involves some of the Clean Water Act violations caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010.”


R. Duncan McIntosh – Class of 2013
Track: Computational Meteorology and Oceanography
Hosting Organization: East-West Center
Internship Project: “I am a Research Assistant with the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessments at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  One of the first projects I’m working on is an assessment of projected sea level scenarios in the American Samoan Islands.”


Aki Shiroza — Class of 2012
Track: Fisheries Science
Hosting Organization: NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southeast Fisheries Science Center — Early Life History Lab
Internship Project: “I am working with the members of the Early Life History Lab of NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC monitoring snappers, groupers, and tunas, which are important fisheries species in the US and British Virgin Islands.  We collect zooplankton samples annually during the spawning period of snappers and groupers to measure larval densities, and we work with local fishing communities to assign MPAs for sustainable fisheries in the Caribbean.  My project also utilizes samples for species of basses that are not directly involved in fisheries but may serve as biological indicators of abundance of large predatory fishes, such as groupers.”


Travis Thyberg — Class of 2012
Track: Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management
Hosting Organization: RSMAS, Benthic Ecology Lab
Internship Project: The University of Miami Benthic Ecology Research Lab has been monitoring and mapping submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) for the central and southern portions of Biscayne Bay as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) since 2003. My project will incorporate and test aspects of these components, such as REstoration COordination and VERification (RECOVER) and the Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP), which coincide with permanent offshore salinity stations operated by Biscayne National Park. These sites are typically unaffected by major fluctuations in salinity from terrestrial freshwater sources but display seagrass community structure dynamics inconsistent with current salinity patterns (i.e. dominated by species that are not typical based on salinity regimes). Water fowl perching on surface buoys at these salinity stations may artificially affect seagrass community dynamics by increasing nutrient deposition. Therefore, determining if the presence of seagrass species are artifacts of nutrient deposition rather than salinity regimes would greatly improve SAV data resolution for BNP and accurately describe seagrass community structure.”


George Burke — Class of 2011
Track: Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management
Hosting Organization: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Environmental Department
Internship Project: “I am responsible for updating and determining port and country specific environmental regulations regarding garbage, waste-water, sewage, recycling, ballast water, and ship maintenance for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd. for South America, Asia, Eastern North America and the Australia/New Zealand regions. When I have ascertained each port’s specific regulations, I enter this information into a database, as well as process them into a quick and readable format for the ship’s masters to utilize for itinerary planning in the Environmental Operations Matrix (a spreadsheet that allows the ship master to quickly assess information about the specific regulations of each port). My work promotes the environmental conservation efforts of the company by ensuring that ships know where, when, and how they should offload their waste in an effort to minimize Royal Caribbean’s environmental impacts.”


Karina Castillo — Class of 2011
Track: Weather, Climate and Society
Hosting Organization: Miami-Dade Department of Emergency Management
Internship Project: “I am designing and creating a hazard database for the Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management dating back to 1900. The database will assess the hazards identified in the Local Mitigation Strategy document and will list all related impacts and how they affected properties or people in the county.”


Aimee Deveau — Class of 2011
Track: Marine Mammal Science
Hosting Organization: Mote Marine Lab and NOAA/NMFS — Marine Mammal Team
Internship Project: “I respond to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings as part of my internship with Mote Marine Lab.  If animals are deceased and intact, we either necropsy them on-site or bring them back to the lab for a more complete necropsy.  If they’re still alive, we bring them in for rehabilitation at Mote.  Additionally, I am evaluating and writing up a 1995 mass-stranding summary of Clymene dolphins.”


Michael Komarnicki — Class of 2011
Track: Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management
Hosting Organization: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative
Internship Project: I am working for the FDEP on SEFCRI (Southeastern Florida Coral Reef Initiative) to develop a GIS analysis of reef health, determined from local dive club surveys, and to also delineate local monitoring groups’ coverage areas.  This GIS map will extend from the area north of Biscayne National Park to south of the Port St. Lucie Inlet and would help to determine optimal areas for reef conservation initiatives in the future.  Another aspect of this project involves the assessment of data collection procedures conducted by local dive clubs and the creation and recommendation of optimal protocol for future data collection efforts.”


Katie Lohr — Class of 2011
Track: Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management
Hosting Organization: NOAA, Southeast Fisheries Science Center/National Underwater Research Center
Internship Project: “The project I’m conducting for my internship focuses on determining disease prevalence in staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) populations in the Florida Keys and the effectiveness of a variety of mitigation strategies used to arrest disease progression in affected colonies. The majority of the colonies we study are nursery-reared outplants, but we also assess wild colonies.  We hope to determine whether disease impacts outplanted colonies differently than wild colonies and whether disease mitigation efforts are worthwhile. This could have important ramifications for future coral reef restoration and management protocols.”


Amelia Nahmias — Class of 2011
Track: Broadcast Meteorology
Hosting Organization: CBS 4 News Station
Internship Project: “I’m at CBS4 in Doral doing graphics and assisting the chief meteorologist with his day to day duties.  I’m learning some of the key aspects to forecasting the weather in South Florida by participating in the afternoon map discussions and then creating my own 5-day forecast.  I also have several internal projects including the creation of a deterministic and trend spread sheet for tropical wind force probabilities, a web based page with standardized records, and weather events for extreme events.  I have access to a number of resources and tools like WSI, Barons, Realtime Doppler, WeatherBug, and many more.  I’m learning to be proficient in the development of daily operational graphics that support the weather and the associated forecast story of the day.”


Heather Nictori — Class of 2011
Track: Marine Mammal Science
Hosting Organization: NOAA, Office of Marine Law Enforcement/Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Office of Marine Law Enforcement
Internship Project: “I’m working at the NOAA Office of Marine Law Enforcement, and my project consists of an analysis of marine mammal violations and how and why they are able or not able to be enforced.  I’m planning to put together a report summarizing this information and providing recommendations on how this can be improved, within the mandate of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”


Bruce Pohlot — Class of 2011
Track: Fisheries Science
Hosting Organization: NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Internship Project: “I am working with NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC examining the impacts of biological, operational, and environmental factors on the condition of pelagic fish captured on longline gear in the NW Atlantic Ocean.  Specifically, I’m looking at how the use of circle hooks may affect the ultimate quality or market grade of targeted species (swordfish and bigeye tuna) in the marketplace.  I am working on the development of a database of the factors affecting fish condition and will link it with a database of individual fish grades from commercial catches.  This will enable me to determine what factors (e.g. hook type, bait type) have the greatest effect on the quality grade of the fish and thus, the potential revenue of the fishermen.”


Veronica Scorcia — Class of 2011
Track: Marine Mammal Science
Hosting Organization: NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) — Marine Mammal Team
Internship Project: “I am working under Dr. Ruth Ewing conducting descriptive epidemiology of parasites in mass stranded Rough-toothed dolphins, Steno bredanensis, from 2001-2005 in the Southeastern United States. I am working with the protected resources and biodiversity division at NOAA, and in addition to my project, I also help out with necropsies and participate in live captures.”


Lan Zhang — Class of 2011
Track: Oceans and Human Health
Hosting Organization: Miami-Dade Department of Health
Internship Project: “In my project, we are tracing ciguatera fish poisoning cases to the earliest communication from patients, and we are analyzing demographic information, temporal and spatial aspects of the symptoms, and fish consumption patterns among patients of ciguatera in Miami-Dade County. The “Merlin” database, used at the Miami-Dade Health Department, and a standardized ciguatera poisoning questionnaire will be used to analyze and improve ciguatera surveillance.  In addition, this project will serve as a pilot study and a comprehensive analysis of ciguatera poisoning in Miami-Dade County.”


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