PhD student, University of South Carolina; B.S. 2018 (Biological Sciences, Florida State University, USA)
My name is Abigail Kreuser, and I am a PhD student at the University of South Carolina. My research interests are broadly in modeling marine ecosystem dynamics, movement of organisms at large scales, and their responses to climate change. My goal is to become an interdisciplinary researcher by developing a statistical skillset throughout my PhD. I am building a movement model of North Atlantic right whales to understand their shifts in habitat use under climate change, and investigate the environmental drivers of their prey abundance making habitat suitable or unsuitable. I chose to pursue a modeling focused path in graduate school because of my previous work experience as a research technician. I focused on monitoring endangered species in which I collected a great deal of highly detailed data that was not being used optimally for management or scientific exploration. I see an opportunity to use data from highly monitored populations such as the North Atlantic right whales to investigate declines and shifts at higher trophic levels and discern current and future impacts of changes in environmental factors throughout the ecosystem.
I have participated in science communication and outreach throughout my career in all levels of education K-12 as well as broader community outreach events. I am an active member of the Graduate Organization of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of South Carolina, where I currently help plan and organize outreach events with local schools pertaining to environmental sciences. Through these experiences, I have become an effective communicator which will benefit me in the role of student representative.
I am interested in serving as the student representative because it is important that the Board has access to the ideas and concerns of the student population who make up a substantial proportion of the ASLO community and will become future leaders in the fields of limnology and oceanography. In my goals to become an interdisciplinary researcher, I have approached building a community in research with the same lens by connecting with students and staff across departments at my university. I am passionate about making earth and environmental sciences a welcoming community to early career researchers because this is a time when they may be experiencing their first failures and questioning their career path. Graduate school can be an isolating experience, but through listening to my peers I have been able to find common threads of experiences and have worked to address financial, academic, and social needs on a larger scale. At the University of South Carolina, I have acted as the Marine Science student representative for the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. In that role, I advocated for graduate stipend increases and worked with faculty and students to find additional avenues to alleviate financial stress for graduate students in the short term. I am in the process of publishing a column this spring in Oceanography magazine about unpaid internships, and how they are a barrier to diversity in the field of ocean sciences. I have aided in fostering academic and social connections across departments at my university by moderating a weekly coding get-together and planning social activities for our graduate student organization. As an instructional assistant for Marine Science labs, I have helped guide my undergraduate students into some of their first research positions at the university, and I have created a document of job boards with descriptions to help them search for summer internships and positions after graduation. I am invested in the success of my peers because more students succeeding in their career and research goals will benefit innovations, breakthroughs, and community in the fields of limnology and oceanography furthering our sciences.
From my experience as a departmental student representative, I view this role to be critical for effectively communicating the needs, ideas, and desires of students to the Board, while also communicating the Board's visions and interests to the students, so that our collective goals as an association can be reached. My experience and interest in advocating for students and early career researchers makes me a strong candidate to be the student representative for the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and I am confident in my ability to advocate for students by communicating and discussing ways the Board can best aid us in becoming successful professionals and researchers in our fields.