Written by GRC Amy Pflaumer, GRC and graduate student in the Department of Marine Sciences
I’ve had the privilege to serve as a Maymester Graduate Research Consultant for Marc Alperin’s MASC/ENTS 220 NC Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems for the past 2 years. This course is particularly well-suited to the GRC program due to its substantial off-campus field component. Following a few weeks of classroom instruction in Chapel Hill, the students spend a week at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) in Morehead City. There, they have the unique opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge of estuary processes during a day-long sampling trip down the Neuse River Estuary, followed by sample analysis in the laboratory and preparation of a final presentation. As a graduate student based in Morehead City, I’m able to aid the students in working with the field and lab equipment necessary to collect and process water samples. Equally important, I have the opportunity to introduce students to my graduate research, as well as my experiences in the graduate program at the Institute of Marine Sciences.
I really enjoy serving as a GRC. The week the Maymester students spend at the coast flies by in a blur of activity. For that week, we spend all day every day together, so I have the chance to talk to the students 1-on-1 and really get to know them. It’s impressive to see the transformation students undergo over the course of a single week, from offering hesitant answers to Dr. Alperin’s questions on day 1 to confidently delivering a highly detailed presentation to the Neuse River Estuary experts at IMS on their final day. Students work hard, gain some great hands-on experience, soak up an almost unbelievable quantity of information, and have a great time; I’m happy to be a part of it as the GRC.