Undergrad Trio Interns at Famed Woods Hole Research Center

Three Humboldt State University science students are summer interns in the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program at the seaside village of Woods Hole in Falmouth, Cape Cod, MA.

Alicia Perez, Cassandra Ruff and Ann Thompson competed with students from across the U.S. to take part in the 2011 PEP course “Ocean and Environmental Sciences: Global Climate Change.” It consists of interdisciplinary lectures and field work, taught by researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Research Center, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey, among others.

The three are Woods Hole summer research interns under the aegis of Humboldt State’s Indian Natural Resource, Science and Engineering Program (INRSEP). It is a student academic support initiative for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students who are pursuing degrees in the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

All three plan to pursue master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s after completing their undergraduate work.

Perez is the first in her family to attend a university. Her parents migrated to the U.S. in the 1970s from Bolivia and Honduras. She earned her geology and ethnics studies degree at Humboldt State in 2010.

Perez says she moved to California because she was looking for educators who would challenge her to think differently. “I feel greatly indebted to HSU Geology, the HSU Women’s Resource Center, INRSEP, and the MultiCultural Center for doing just that,” she says.

Ruff arrived at HSU in 2008 to major in environmental science with an emphasis in policy. She is minoring in environmental ethics and plans to add geology as a minor as well. An enthusiastic member of INRSEP, Ruff intends to become more deeply involved in the program in the wake of her Woods Hole internship.

Thompson, a Montana native from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Charlo, just completed her second year at HSU. She is a fisheries biology major with a minor in teaching English as a second language.

Thompson has exceptional experience in student research. She volunteered last summer at NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Maui, took the Careers in Marine Science Seminar at Woods Hole in 2009, and volunteered with NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in Newport News, VA. in 2008. “I enjoy returning home to spend time in the beautiful Mission Valley, hiking, skiing, and fishing,” she says, adding that she will pursue further research after she graduates, in dam removal and riparian restoration.

PEP was launched in 2009 by a consortium of institutions to foster diversity in the Woods Hole science community. Past Humboldt State participants have included Sam Matulich (fisheries biology, 2010) of the Chickasaw Nation and Rosalinda Gonzalez (environmental science, 2010), past president of HSU’s chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

“It is an honor for INRSEP to have students participate in the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program,” says Jacquelyn Bolman, INRSEP Chair. “They receive astute mentoring from Dr. Ambrose Jearld, Jr., the first black Ph.D. in fisheries biology in the United States. He has worked diligently throughout his professional career to ensure the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, blacks and Hispanics in earth systems science.”