Alexa Sterling ('15 NOAA Holling Scholar)

Photo of Zoe VanderPloeg How did the Fellowship apply to your field of study?

Within the field of marine biology, the NOAA Hollings Program gave me practical work experience similar to a government scientist and an opportunity to complete a project that has the potential to impact policy decisions.

Where was your internship located and what kind of work did you do while interning with NOAA?

My internship was located in Seattle, WA at the Northwest Fisheries Center. My internship project was a social science research project which examined recreational shellfishers' perceptions of bio-toxins. My duties included everything from researching the biological background of bio-toxins, understanding the importance of shellfishing in WA, collecting the responses from participants, and analyzing those responses for common themes. Finally, I am writing my results in a multi-agency report.

Did you do research at UNCW as well?

I am completing my Honors Thesis in Dr. Alison Taylor's laboratory here at UNCW where I am examining the effects of bio-toxins on microzooplankton swimming behavior. The Hollings Program provided me with a valuable, unique experience of increasing my bio-toxin knowledge through a social science project focused on the effects on humans. You can also see Alexa's full research story on our website!

What was the best experience gained for being a NOAA Hollings Scholar?

The best experience was presenting all of my results at the NOAA Office of Education Science and Education Symposium this August while being able to develop professional connections and friendships with the other Hollings Scholars!