Professor of Marine and Environmental Science, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
Ph.D., 1981 North Carolina State University, Zoology, Ecology minor; M.S., 1978 University of Michigan, Natural Resources, Resource Ecology; B.S., 1976 University of Michigan,Natural Resources
After moving to Hampton University, I developed a special program to promote minority students who are interested in the aquatic sciences. The program is run in conjunction with the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) and the National Science Foundation. Every year since 1990, minority students from around the U.S. attend ASLO meetings and participate in a series of activities that serves to broaden their exposure to the aquatic sciences. As a result of this work, I was recently awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. The money associated with this award was used to create the Minorities At Sea Together (MAST) program for undergraduate students. The month-long program which takes place aboard a 53-foot long ketch, combines the study of marine science, marine policy, the heritage of African Americans on the water, and sailing.
I knew I wanted to study Marine Biology after taking high school biology. Although I lived in Detroit, Michigan, I was turned on the sea by films and TV specials. I was also on the swimming team and loved the water. I applied to several coastal schools, but chose the University of Michigan, since it meant paying in state tuition. There I earned the BS and MS degrees in Natural Resources, specializing in aquatic ecology. By my junior year in college I became more interested in studying lakes than the sea. Perhaps this was due to the abundance of lakes in the area, and no near-by ocean. I spent a summer at the University of Michigan Biological Station, which was the best experience of my undergraduate career.
My master's degree research was done on Toolik Lake, in Arctic Alaska. I studied the population of Hydra in the lake, and also worked on my advisor's (Dr. Sam Mozley) research on bottom living animals. My research advisor took a new job at North Carolina State University, and I followed him there so I could continue my Arctic research for my Ph.D. For the Ph.D. research, I did field experiments to determine how the community living on the rocks in Toolik Lake is structured by various agents.
As I finished each degree, I made a point of publishing the work in scientific journals. This helped establish my credentials as a scientist. After finishing my doctorate in 1988, I took a faculty position at Shaw University, a small African American school in North Carolina. There I taught a variety of biology courses and conducted research on the effects of suspended clays on lake ecosystems. After 7 years I moved to Hampton University, also an African American school, and have been there ever since. At Hampton I continued my work on clay in lakes, but also began studies on the Chesapeake Bay. I am most interested in the zooplankton. I teach courses in Marine Biology and Ecology, and work with graduate students.
After moving to Hampton University, I developed a special program to promote minority students who are interested in aquatic sciences. The program is run in conjunction with the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) and the National Science Foundation. Every year since 1990, minority students from around the U.S. come to the meetings of ASLO to participate in a series of activities that helps them to build careers in the field. For this work I was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. I used the prize money to create a new program for college students called MAST (Minorities At Sea Together). MAST combines the study of marine science, marine policy, the heritage of African Americans on the water, and sailing. The program takes place aboard a 53-foot long ketch and we spend a month sailing the Chesapeake Bay in the summer.
I have some advice for aspiring aquatic scientists. First, take advantage of all your opportunities to learn and give all your studies your best effort. It is amazing, but even those liberal arts courses are useful as your career develops. Be sure to get involved in some research and spend a summer at a field station. This is when you discover what aquatic science is really like. Try also to make contacts with scientists in the area you are most interested in studying. This will help you get into a good graduate program and secure other opportunities.