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Happy Holidays from the Graduate School!

Posted by: powellbh | December 15, 2014 | No Comment |


Well, graduate students, you MADE it! On behalf of the Graduate School, congratulations on another semester well done. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season and hope that everyone enjoys a much deserved break. The new year is just around the corner, so make sure you mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

January 7- Graduate Student Spring Orientation, 5:30pm, Alumni Hall, 2nd Floor Randolph Hall

January 12- First day of spring semester classes

January 19- No classes (MLK Day observed)

January 20- Last day to drop/add spring semester classes

January 21 @ 7:30pm- College of Charleston’s men’s basketball game vs. the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. The Graduate School of the University of Charleston, South Carolina and the School of Business will host guest in the President’s Box at TD Arena that night.

February 14- Last day to drop/add spring semester classes

February 16-20- Graduate Education Week (our 2nd annual event). This week will feature a variety of events geared to students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community, such as Grice Marine Lab tours and networking opportunities.

February 19 @ 4pm- Stern Center Ballroom – The 9th annual Graduate Student Research Poster Session which highlights the research projects of students in our master’s programs.

February 20 @ Noon- Meeting for the Advisory Board to the The Graduate School of the University of Charleston, S.C.

February 25- College of Charleston Day at the Capital in Columbia, S.C. – The Graduate School of the University of Charleston, S.C., will showcase its offerings at this all-day event held in the lobby of State House.

Have a SAFE and HAPPY holiday season students, faculty, and staff! We will see you in 2015!


under: Graduate Programs, Graduate School Office, Holiday


Lisa Vandiver, Ph.D., graduated from the College of Charleston’s MSc Environmental Studies program and now works at NOAA’s Restoration Center in Charleston. Originally from Athens, Georgia, Lisa moved to Charleston in 1997 to pursue a BSc in Marine Biology. After working at Kiawah Resort as a naturalist as an  undergraduate, Lisa enrolled in the Environmental Studies program at the College specializing in stormwater management and the effects of stormwater on tidal creek ecosystems.   After she completed her Masters, Lisa attended the University of South Carolina earning her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences. Upon graduation, she was immediately accepted into the Knauss Fellowship program in Washington D.C.

At NOAA , Lisa works with the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP) and the Community-based Restoration Program (CRP). Through DARRP, Lisa helps restores coastal and marine habitats and resources to compensate for the natural resource injuries incurred from oil spills and hazardous waste sites. Currently, Lisa and her team are planning for restoration for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the hazardous waste site in Brunswick, Georgia. Through CRP, she coordinates with local communities, territorial agencies, and federal partners to reduce land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) to coral and seagrass habitats in the Caribbean.

“This is definitely the most rewarding part of my career, not only because it is nice to work in the Caribbean, but because I am able to see major changes in pollutant loads and human behavior as a result of our work.” Lisa attributes some of the skills she uses in her job to her graduate school experience at the College of Charleston. “College of Charleston provides a unique interdisciplinary experience that truly provides you the skills needed to succeed in a profession as a natural resource manager.  We were required to attend Charleston County Council meetings and evaluate local environmental management issues. These experiences taught me lessons about the complexity of environmental management and the importance of the human dimension. The understanding and ability to work with others towards a common goal is key to the success of any career. My graduate career at the College of Charleston was integral in fostering and developing these skills.”

Words of Advice to Graduate Students
Network, network, network! Now-a-days many people go on to pursue their graduate degrees, so it is not the ‘foot in the door’ that it used to be. Once you graduate, you can almost guarantee that for every job you apply to you will be competing against another Master’s degree or even a Ph.D.  The primary thing that can give you an edge over your competition is your network. It is likely that you have already begun developing your network without even knowing it.  The marine science world is surprisingly small and Fort Johnson is filled with well-known and respected scientists and soon your friends will become your colleagues. Graduate school is a great time to expand your network which will help you get your foot in the door when you need it.

Your graduate career is your opportunity to explore new ideas and opportunities. Take advantage of this time!  If you have an opportunity to work on a research cruise or you have a chance to study abroad or you simply have a chance to help a friend out in the field, GO, you will be surprised how it will open up a whole new world of ideas and opportunities. Worst case scenario you would have added one more person to your network.

under: Environmental Studies, Guest Bloggers, Jobs & Careers, Networking, News

Alaina Cordes

Alaina Cordes, Communications (2012)
Marketing and Group Sales Coordinator at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Alaina Cordes has worked as the Marketing & Group Sales Coordinator at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum for just over a year now. She earned her B.A. in Communications from Flagler College in St Augustine, Florida and her Master of Arts in Communications from the College of Charleston in 2012 while she worked as the Student Media Coordinator for the on-campus run network, CisternYard Media.

Alaina’s ‘office environment’ at Patriots Point is utterly unique: she works onboard the USS Yorktown, the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the United States Navy. As the Marketing and Group Sales Coordinator, Alaina’s to-do list varies, making her job extremely exciting and challenging. She organizes veteran meet-and-greets one day, manages social media marketing, and rebrands major programs for the Museum the next. Her job at the Naval and Maritime Museum combines the skills she learnt in and outside of the classroom during her Master’s with her passion for history and historic preservation.

 Words of Wisdom: Current graduate students should keep in mind what their end goal is and use every internship opportunity to gain real world experience. While experience is a big part of your resume, never underestimate the power of a Master’s degree.  Earning an MA continues to impress employers and may put you ahead of other candidates.

under: Uncategorized

Left to Right: Students Leah Worthington, Maggie Burton, Brett Powell, Victoria Musheff, Morgan Willer, Jordan Hardee, Bailey Knight, and Kelly Hogan

On October 25, students from the Masters of History program joined a team of volunteers and employees at the Patriots Point working to reconstruct elements of the museum’s “Experiencing Vietnam” exhibit. Situated in the shadow of the USS Yorktown, the Vietnam Support Base is a true-to-scale recreation of a U.S. Naval Advanced Tactical Support Base, or ATSB, that was utilized in South Vietnam from roughly 1965 to 1971. The exhibit features an impressive collection of rare equipment throughout the camp, including a Mark 1 River Patrol Boat and three “Seawolf” helicopters that were used by the “Brown Water Navy” to support ground forces and defend the critical waterways.*

The history  graduate students were among a group of volunteers who assisted in filling hundreds of sandbags used for constructing bunkers around the camp. After building up the camps defenses, the students enjoyed  a private tour of the USS Yorktown led by fellow history graduate student, Kelly Hogan. As a Collection Assistant at the museum, Kelly works closely with the Collections Director in acquisition of new materials, as well as the research and development of new exhibits at Patriots Point. Her most recent research of camp mess halls in Vietnam is reflected in the additions made to the Vietnam Support Camp exhibit.

Kelly’s work at Patriots Point is a shining example of the how history graduate students at the College of Charleston are contributing to the local community. Check out our graduate students at work making (or rather, remaking) history:






under: Charleston, History, Networking



I recently had the privilege, thanks in part to a study abroad grant from the Graduate School, to attend the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. My experience with the perception of conservationists is that we trade in “doom and gloom” – but that could not have been further from the truth at this meeting. Certainly our planet could be in better shape, but a lot of people are working hard and having success in a lot of conservation projects around the world. The two major themes of the conference – which tie together quite nicely – are that 1) we need to be positive about the successes we are having and the prospect for future success, and 2) we need to communicate these successes through social media in interesting and responsible ways.

The conference was particularly helpful as a student – everyday at lunch there was a career building exercise. I got to practice my ‘elevator speech’ (which apparently is strictly an American term) and interview skills, discuss job opportunities with a host of agencies, and sit down to lunch with the plenary speakers in a small group. While going to a meeting all by my lonesome for the first time caused some anxiety in the beginning, by the end I’d made friends from Canada to Iceland to Camaroon! I even came across a handful of College of Charleston graduates, out in the ‘real world’ making a difference!

All in all, I’m incredibly grateful to CofC for supporting me in this adventure. I’ll leave you with a (very quick) synopsis of my thesis work (which I presented at the conference) and a cartoon that celebrated environmental cartoonist Seppo drew for me (he also drew the meeting’s cartoon at the top):

My research focuses on the stone crab fishery – which is considered renewable because crabs are returned to the water after their claws are harvested under the assumption that claws will be regenerated and perhaps reach marketable size. To what degree this assumption is met is unclear, but my laboratory and field experiments suggest that claw removal leads to significant changes in feeding behavior, movement and survival.


under: Charleston, Events, Guest Bloggers, Jobs & Careers, Marine Biology, Networking, Professional Development, Travel

As part of the College of Charleston’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and The College Reads! Sponsorship of a number of war, trauma, and culture events, History  Graduate Student Caroline Parsons installed an exhibit on the local impact of World War I.


June 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I. Known as the first “total war,” WWI devastated Europe economically, politically, demographically, and, ultimately, morally.  On April 16, 1917, when the United States joined her allies – France, Russia, and Britain – to fight in World War I, there were many students from the College of Charleston who commissioned to join the ranks of the American military and to fight alongside their fellow Americans and Allied Powers in this brutal war. In an effort to recognize their service and to remember the first total war of our modern world, the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library has partnered with the College of Charleston History Department to create a display to commemorate the centennial of World War I. The display utilizes WWI propaganda posters, newspaper clippings, photographs from Special Collections at the library, and other sources that explore various topics including gender, race, politics, the importance of the home front, the lives of soldiers, and ultimately what made the first World War so unique and devastating.The purpose of the display is to communicate to the observer what it would  have been like to live during WWI and to inevitably be involved in the conflict. A number of the sources included in the display specifically highlight the involvement of Charleston and the Lowcountry in war, serving as a reminder of the contributions that the local community made to the war effort.

The display is available until the end of the Fall 2014 semester and is located on the second floor of Addlestone library. In addition to the exhibit, there is a book cart available on the first floor of the library with specially selected texts that explore the causes and ramifications of World War I.

Caroline Parsons

I am a second year student in the joint MA History program at the College of Charleston and The Citadel.She is currently finishing up her final semester of courses and writing her thesis which focuses on Ronald Reagan’s moral and religious rhetoric concerning communism and the Soviet Union during his time as president. Caroline graduated with honors in May 2013 from Western Carolina University with a BA in History and a minor in Philosophy. Originally from Mint Hill, NC, she hopes to move back to the Old North State to pursue a career as a high school history teacher and basketball coach after graduation in May 2015.

under: Uncategorized

kerrigan 2
Kerrigan hiking through the VI National Park on St. John

This past August, I spent two weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands collecting data for my graduate thesis research. My project is titled, “The effect of watershed development and climate on coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands using satellite based sensors”. To give you a little bit of background, these islands are highly mountainous and when it rains, the surrounding waters receive high amounts of runoff full of sediments and surface pollutants. Combined with increasing rates of urbanization and rainfall events from climate change, these inputs are causing major decline of the coral reefs. St. Thomas is the most densely populated island with the greatest development. The Charlotte Amalie harbor is a popular stop for cruise ships and can fit over 8 ships at one time—talk about a ton of pollution! St. John on the other hand, is very underdeveloped and is home to the VI National Park.

During my trip, I was collecting water samples and taking measurements from sites suffering low and high degrees of pollution around St. Thomas and St. John to compare the water quality—before and after major rain events. The University of Virgin Islands allowed me to rent research vessels and lab space for sampling and analysis. Our field days on the boats normally lasted about 5 hours and at each site we were; (a) collecting water samples, (b) finding the Secchi depth (for turbidity), (c) deploying a CTD that measured temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity with depth and (d) taking optical measurements using a spectroradiometer. At a couple of sites, the spectroradiometer was put into a water-proof casing so I could SCUBA dive and take measurements over healthy and diseased coral heads to compare spectral signatures. In a field notebook I recorded any pertinent observations of the surroundings, weather and cloud cover, water color, etc… Water samples that were collected in the field were immediately brought back to the lab and filtered for total dissolved solids, organic/inorganic matter and chlorophyll.

Over the two weeks, there were a total of four sampling days. Thankfully, everything ran smoothly with minimal setbacks. The biggest challenge was scheduling these field days in coordination with other scientists at UVI needing research vessels or the CTD. Because I was not certified with UVI, I could not operate any of the boats so it became difficult finding boat drivers and extra hands to help out for 5 hours in the field. However, I was introduced to a number of scientists/professors and other graduate students at UVI and learned about a lot of the research being conducted down there. Weekends were spent either taking day hikes through the national park, relaxing on the beaches, snorkeling/kayaking, and eating some of the local food. Overall, it was a great success and I’m currently planning a second trip in December to collect another round of data.

Deploying the CTD into the water column to measure a variety of water quality parameters with depth.

Thanks to Kristi for sharing her experiences with us!


under: Uncategorized

Spotlight on Diversity: Maria Royle

Posted by: powellbh | October 14, 2014 | No Comment |


Maria Royle is a graduate student in the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance. She has had a life-long interest in science and helping children. She earned a master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College, Massachusetts. Her passion for children and science, though, led her to become a candidate in the College’s Science Middle Grades Program; she is currently a clinical intern (formerly known as student teaching) at College Park Middle School in Berkeley County. She has been a volunteer guardian ad litem for over twelve years, serving the Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley County communities.

Maria is bilingual and learned English as a second language. Her first-hand knowledge of the struggles with learning English and the American culture has helped her to be an advocate for the growing number of immigrant children in local schools. Once she earns her initial certification in middle grades science, she plans to add English for Speakers of Other Languages to her area of certification. Maria was a graduate assistant until the start of her internship and is the recipient of the Goizuetta Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships within the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance.

Maria’s research agenda includes being a team member of a five-year long research project through NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute Education, Education/Public Outreach Program (SSERVI EPO), whose goal is to work with a variety of artists, scientists, and educators to develop an arts infused STEM curricula, for both formal and informal education venues, that inspires and engages students in the multidisciplinary field of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). In addition, the team will broaden participation by developing materials that are accessible by all students, including those with disabilities. Maria’s research agenda also includes working with English learners; she will be a presenter at the upcoming College of Charleston National Diversity Conference. Her presentation, entitled “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), will explain the latest federal legislation enacted to help undocumented students attend college.

Maria has enjoyed her life as a graduate student. She is happy to be attending a teacher education program that has such a good reputation within the community. Although she was worried about the state licensing exams, she passed them with no problems because of the rigor of her classes and the high expectations of her professors.

We wish Maria the best as she continues her graduate studies and thank her for sharing her experience!

under: Graduate Programs, Guest Bloggers, Jobs & Careers, Middle Grades Education

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, B.A. ’94 and M.A. ’97, Associate Professor of History at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, was recently awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Award for her manuscript Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and After World War II (University Press of Florida, 2014), by the Association of Black Women Historians at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Memphis, Tennessee.

Crossing the Line chronicles black and white women who were accustomed to a segregated society in South Carolina but who worked both individually and collectively to change their state’s unequal racial status quo.  In this work she explores the early activism of black women in organizations including the NAACP, the South Carolina Progressive Democratic Party, and the South Carolina Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. At the same time, Dr. Jones-Branch discusses the involvement of white women in such groups as the YWCA and Church Women United. In the final analysis, she argues that where possible, black and white women’s interactions cross the racial divide in South Carolina helped set the groundwork for the broader civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

Association of Black Women Historians Letitia Woods Brown Book Award

under: Award, Guest Bloggers, History, Jobs & Careers, News

Leah Fisher

Leah Fisher, Marine Biology (2012)
Climate Change Policy Coordinator for the National Ocean Service

“Take advantage of your networks. You never know when WHO you know will make the difference”

Leah Fisher is a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Marine Biology program and the current Climate Change Policy Coordinator for the National Ocean Service in Washington DC. Originally from Charleston, Leah attended Duke University for her undergraduate degree and came to College of Charleston to study sea turtles but switched to specializing in marine policy after researching at the Grice Marine Lab (part of the College’s facilities on James Island).

Leah’s open mindedness in her research allowed her the opportunity to apply for the Knauss Fellowship (a marine policy fellowship at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration) which turned into her current job. Leah’s focus as the Climate Change Policy Coordinator is on climate change issues as they relate to the Ocean Service, with a focus on coastal community resilience and adaptation to climate change hazards, like sea level rise.  She promotes the work and priorities of the Ocean Service in the realm of climate change adaptation and community resilience, and coordinates climate change policy issues across the different programs in the Ocean Service.

Words of Wisdom: “Specifically for Grice students, it’s a unique master’s of science program that lets students explore before committing to a thesis project – so take advantage of the opportunity to explore, and keep an open mind to all of the other types of science that you may not have been interested in previously.”

Congratulations on your success Leah!

under: Jobs & Careers, Marine Biology, Networking, News

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