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Get to Know Us Better!

Read some spotlights below on our incredible faculty, alumni, and students to get to know us better! This is a great way to learn about all of the amazing opportunities and knowledge you have access to by joining the Washington College family.

Faculty Spotlights

  • Dr. Robin Van Meter    Van Meter

Education:
-BS in Conservation Biology, University of Maryland College Park
-MS in Environmental Science, Drexel University
-PhD in Marine Estuarine Environmental Science, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Courses Taught at WAC:
- Applied Ecology
-Disease Ecology
-Conservation & Wildlife Techniques
- Wetlands Ecology
- Current Topics in Ecology for non-majors
-General Biology 2
- General Zoology
- Tropical Ecology winter session abroad course
- Diversity and Inclusivity in Science

Interests and/or Research Focus: "My research lies at the intersection of ecotoxicology and herpetology, so I love to study the effects of pollutants on amphibians. I’ve studied the effects of a crude oil spill on snapping turtle development, road salt pollution impacts to larval amphibian food webs, and pesticide uptake in juvenile and adult amphibians. More recently, I’ve started a project to explore the application of non-lethal sampling methods in marbled salamanders. Students join me in local wetland habitats where we search for adult salamanders who have migrated to the wetlands to breed. When we locate an adult, we swab it with a cotton swab and are using the swabs to identify biomarkers that will help us better understand amphibian health across a land use gradient."

Favorite Thing About WAC: "My students and the other ENV professors! It’s been so much fun to get to know students, watch them graduate each year, stay in touch, and then learn about all of their exciting graduate school and career experiences. They make me so proud! The ENV professors are so wonderful to work with too – I feel lucky."

Favorite Food: "Definitely ice cream. All flavors are great to me and season doesn’t matter. If there’s ice cream in the room, I’ve got to have some! (I almost said the ice cream machine in the dining hall was my favorite thing about WAC!)"

 Fun Fact About Yourself: "I’ve been practicing Buddhism for 14 years, and meditation really calms my monkey mind. This aspect of my life is incredibly meaningful and helps me navigate the unexpected twists and turns that naturally arise in a complex world."

 

  • Dr. Jillian Bible Bible

Education: "I have a BS and MS in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a PhD in Marine Ecology from the University of California, Davis. My BS was focused on biology and my MS on environmental education and communication. My PhD thesis assessed the vulnerability of Olympia oysters in California to human-caused stressors like climate change and invasive predators."


Courses Taught at WAC:
- Applied Ecology
-Introduction to Environmental Studies 
-Marine Conservation
- Restoration Ecology
- Environmental Communications


Interests and/or research focus: "I research how humans affect marine and estuarine organisms, especially oysters. I apply my work to conservation, restoration, and management of marine and estuarine resources. I am also interested in citizen science and what motivates people to participate."

Favorite thing about WAC: "Passionate students, faculty devotion to teaching, the Chester River, and spring flowers!"

Favorite food: "Mangosteen"

Fun fact about yourself: "I took a year off during college to work and travel throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. After college and before graduate school, I traveled with my boyfriend (now husband) in Central and South America." 

 

  • Dr. Rebecca Fox 

  • Fox

Education: “I have a B.S. in Biology from Lycoming College in PA, PhD at the Horn Point Lab, which is part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. My PhD officially came through the University of MD through the Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Science program. I also did a post doc at Horn Point.”
 
Courses Taught at WAC:
- Field Methods in Environmental Science
-Watershed Biogeochemistry
-Climate Change
- Wetlands Ecology
- Introduction to Environmental Studies
-Sustainability and the Environment
- FYS: Science of Reality TV
- Summer Environmental Studies in Ecuador 
- Summer Bermuda Enviroment
-Lab section of Atmosphere, Ocean, and the Environment
 
Interests and/or Research Focus: “My interests are in nitrogen cycling in soils, groundwater, and streams. I am also interested in greenhouse gas production and loss. Currently, my research is centered on agricultural areas”
 
Favorite Thing about WAC: “I like the close-knit community. I love that I get to really know my students and that they get to know me. I also love my department colleagues. I feel super fortunate to work with such wonderful people! I also like the dining hall cookies A LOT or days when there are cannoli's or churros”
 
Favorite Food: “Just one? My favorite meal is lasagna and my favorite fruit is passionfruit. My favorite candy is Swedish Fish, but I also really like seasonal candy (candy hearts, candy corn, jelly beans!), although similar to Dr. Sherman, I generally like sweets! Can you tell that I like food?”
 
Fun Fact About Yourself: “I like to swim, run, and bike (in that order..) and I have completed events from the 5K to the Ironman”
 
  • Dr. Leslie Sherman 

  • Sherman

Education: " I grew up in Chicago but was born in England. I have a B.S. with a major in math from Carleton College, but I did a lot of music (flute - played in two small ensembles and the orchestra during my 4 years.) Then an M.S.C.E. (Civil Engineering) in Environmental Engineering. Finally my Ph.D. is in Soil Science, with a specialization soil chemistry. In between my graduate degrees I worked for NOAA and then served two years in the Peace Corps in Cameroon teaching chemistry and physics and working with Heifer Project International"

Courses Taught at WAC:
-Quantitative Chemical Analysis
- Chemistry of the Environment for Non-Majors
- Environmental Chemistry
- Chemistry Seminar
-Environmental Science Seminar


Interests and/or Research Focus: " I am interested in protecting soil, water, and air quality. My most recent work has been at the grassland restoration project out at RAFC where I've investigated if the soils have improved from the conversion to grassland vegetation. But, I have also studied metals in the Chester River with Dr. Kehm. I was fortunate to spend a sabbatical in Costa Rica studying the impact of intensive pineapple cultivation on soil quality (my kids went to school there!) I am also very interested in renewable energy"

Favorite Thing About WAC: "The students!"

Favorite Food: "I love Indian Food and I have a severe sweet tooth!"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I moved to Chestertown to start teaching at WAC by taking the summer with my husband and 1 year-old daughter to drive from Rhode Island across the country to Oregon, by way of Kansas and Utah, and then back to Maryland via South Dakota and Wisconsin. My daughter learned how to walk in the campgrounds we stayed in along the way!"

 

  • Dr. Brian Scott 

  • Scott

Education:
-Ph.D. Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago, July, 2005
-Masters, Economics, April 2002, University of Illinois at Chicago
-International Business Linkage Program, August 1993 to May 1994, Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland

Courses Taught at WAC:
-ENV 117 Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
-ECN 112 Introduction to Microeconomics
-ECN/ENV 317 Environmental Economics
-ECN/ENV 318 Natural Resource Economics
-ECN 394 Cost Benefit Analysis

Interests and/or Research Focus: "Market based pollution control mechanisms, how agents misrepresent pollution reductions, volunteerism, experimental economics, and behavioral economics"

Favorite Thing About WAC: "Working with my students (and rice crispy treats at the D-hall)"

Favorite Food: "My favorite "taste" is chocolate covered raisins. My favorite food is "Runza" (found in Nebraska"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I mean, I'm an economist. Can I be fun? I enjoy running marathons and triathlons.
Oh and I LOVE narwhals."

 

Alumni Spotlights

  • Julia Portmann Julia

Year graduated from WAC: 2019
 
Education beyond WAC: Current M.S. Biology student at James Madison University
 
M.S. thesis title: Identifying key factors for stream restoration success in an agriculturally impaired sub-watershed of the Chesapeake Bay
 
Future plans: Continue working to improve water quality through state/local government programs or non-profits, potentially pursue a PhD in ecology or environmental science studying stream restoration.
 
Favorite thing about WAC: "That’s hard to pick! I think one thing that I’ve realized since graduating is how lucky WAC students are in the variety of courses available and the small class sizes. I got to take so many really cool classes and get to know all of my professors through them."
 
Advice for current WAC students: "Take advantage of all the partnerships and cool opportunities that WAC has! Intern with any of CES’s awesome programs, work with professors, talk to the career center about external internships, and be proactive about it!"
 
  • Eric Waciega Eric

Year and Major: 2013 B.A. Environmental Studies Minor Biology

Current Employer: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Job Description: "As a Park Ranger I am responsible for directly providing services to visitors, maintaining and protecting natural and cultural resources, equipment, campground and day use areas, and grounds and facilities."

Favorite thing about WAC: "The Center for Environment and Society is an amazing organization within WAC that provides students very valuable learning opportunities outside of lecture and lab. "

Advice for current WAC students: "Try new things and go outside your comfort zone. Take an internship, study abroad, volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary, and never stop learning."

  • Kevin Costello

  • kevin

Year graduated from WAC & Major/Minor: 2001 – Environmental Studies

Education beyond WAC: MS Environmental Management from UMGC in 2013

Current Employer: Baltimore Gas & Electric

Brief Job Description: "Senior Environmental Water Issues Program Manager – I act as the subject matter expert for anything pertaining to the Clean Water Act, from groundwater treatment systems to construction dewatering to Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Planning."

Favorite thing about WAC: "The lifelong friendships that I made there."

Advice for current WAC students: "Graduation is not the end of your education. Please continue to learn about things you are interested in. Keep an open mind and always ask questions, even if you consider yourself an expert at a particular topic, another person’s perspective can allow you to continue to grow and shape your view of the world."

Student Spotlights

  • Emma Cease (Class of 2022) 

  • emma

Major: Environmental Science
 
Hometown: Rising Sun, Maryland
 
Other Involvements on Campus: George’s General Admissions Worker, Student Environmental Alliance Treasurer, Cater Society Fellow, Presidential Fellow, KAO Member, Running Club Officer, Eastern Shore Food Lab Intern
 
Environmental Areas of Interest: Marine Science and Conservation, Ecology, Health and Sustainability
 
Favorite Part About Your Job: “I love getting to work with the ENV faculty! They are so kind and have further increased my passion for environmental science through all of their knowledge and experience.”
 
Favorite Thing About WAC: “WAC honestly feels like a home away from home. The students and faculty are like one big family and I can’t wait to be back on-campus for my senior year. I also love being right off the Chester River. Whenever I have free time and it’s nice out, I take a kayak or paddleboard out on the water.”
 
Fun Fact About Yourself: “I love to run! I am a long distance runner and compete in several races each year. My favorite distance is the half marathon and I plan on running a full marathon after I graduate.”
 
  • Sammy Diloreto (Class of 2021) 

  • sammy

Hometown: Harleysville, PA

Most Exciting Part of your WAC Experience: "Conducting my own research funded through the Cater Society of Junior Fellows. My research is analyzing the effects of distance from a Turnpike Interchange on soil contamination from vehicle non-exhaust emissions."

Advice for Students Who are Considering the Duke 3:2 program: "Start planning early! It was very helpful for me to start planning out the courses I needed to take for WAC requirements and Duke prerequisites as a freshman, than it would have been if I decided this later. You can always change your mind later on but this way you will already be ahead of the game!"

Plans for your coursework track/area of emphasis at Duke: "Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health"

Plans this summer: "I will be interning at Gannett Fleming this summer with the Environmental Team at their Valley Forge location."

Plans after graduating from Duke: "As of right now, I am not entirely sure what I plan to do after Duke but I hope to either have an environmental management position to apply the skills I will have learned in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health program or possibly pursue a PhD."

Favorite Course Taken at WAC: "Environmental Chemistry"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I am a captain of the Trap and Skeet Team!" 

 

  • Shannon Thomas (Class of 2021) shannon

Hometown: Pottstown, PA

Thesis: “The Interaction of Reduced pH Levels and Increased Resource Competition, Simulated by Population Density, Causes a Reduction in Juvenile Wood Frog Growth”

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: “I have been working with Dr. Van Meter for 2 years, assisting her with research that focuses on amphibians. It has been exciting to grow so passionate about this topic and be able to dive into my own research!”

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: “Having an experimental thesis, I have had to come to terms with the fact that experiments do not always yield the results you expect or the results you want, but it doesn’t make your research any less important!”

Plans for After Graduation: “I am excited to apply the knowledge and experience WAC has given me to a new job or internship.”

Favorite Course Taken: “Watershed Biogeochemistry, as an environmental science major and chem minor, it was a blend of all the stuff I think is really cool! (and shoutout to Chesapeake Semester, of course)”

Fun Fact About Yourself: “I have my boater’s license and I can waterski, I love being on the water!”

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: “Get organized early. Starting in junior and senior seminar you will come across resources or have ideas that you want to keep track of, so make sure you have a folder to keep all your thesis materials together and organized!”

  • Chase Lentz (Class of 2021) chase

Hometown: Severna Park, MD

Thesis: “Urbanization's Destructive Impacts on the Severn River Versus the James River”

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: “I enjoy learning more about the river I've grown up on (the Severn River) along with the ability to learn more about the James River, a river I've never really knew too much about before my thesis. I also rope in native biotic organisms into my thesis, which is cool because I enjoy learning more about animals and plants that I commonly experience.”

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: “I'm not the kind of guy to be able to sit and write for too long, so I've found myself neglecting my thesis too often. I've been making progress but less than I'd like.”

Plans for After Graduation: “As of now, I plan on working for the Safe Harbort marina company to enforce environmental guidelines within marinas under their control in the region. I have to graduate first though.”

Favorite Course Taken: “Applied Ecology. I really enjoyed the outside labs and interacting with different components of nature, especially organisms such as salamanders, clams, and frogs (who weren't part of the lab plan but were the focus of my time anyway).”

Fun Fact About Yourself: “I used to have a squirrel that was named Princess Diana. After raising her for a while from a two-week-old, I gave her to a professional to be released into the wild.”

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: “Try to stay on top of it, once the last semester hits and the aversion to work combines with the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, it is easy to find yourself falling behind.”

  • Olivia Butler (Class of 2021) olivia

Hometown: Sykesville, MD

Thesis: "Climate Change Fueled Migration of Mangroves: An Encroachment on Salt Marshes"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Being able to incorporate knowledge and experiences from a previous summer internship."

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: "Finding time to dedicate to it around other coursework."

Plans for After Graduation: "I am applying to seasonal jobs around the country, but may look into Chesapeake Conservation Corps."

Favorite Course Taken: "Chesapeake Semester (especially the Belize and Guatemala trip!)"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I got to help band Ospreys last summer!"

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: "Use a program like Zotero to help keep your resources organized."

  • Doug Kurtz (Class of 2021) doug

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Thesis: "The Effect of Common Agricultural Pesticides on Delmarva Ambystomatid Corticosterone Response (probably going to find a way to shorten the name LOL)"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Learning new laboratory techniques & working closely with Dr. Van Meter on research that has real-world implications!"

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: "Juggling the logistics of doing an experiment during a pandemic (safety is always the priority!)."

Plans for After Graduation: "Hopefully gain some work experience in a research facility. I would ultimately like to go to graduate school, but the pandemic has allowed me to practice patience"

Favorite Course Taken: "Field Methods with Dr. Fox. You gain practical research experience and get to express creativity in designing research studies!"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "Bananas are my favorite food!"

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: "Find a time every week to do an internal check in, even if it’s just to review what you still need to do. If you’re on campus, block off a time during the day in your schedule and go sit in an empty classroom like you’re taking a class."

  • Samina Soin-Voshell (Class of 2021) 

  • samina

Hometown: Annapolis, MD

Thesis: "The potential for C. maenas (European green crab) invasion in the Chesapeake Bay"

Most exciting part: "Getting to take an interdisciplinary approach to my topic since as a double major I am combining both biological and environmental issues into it"

Most difficult part: "Having writing deadlines that occur sequentially since I usually approach writing in a non-linear order"

Plans after graduation: "I’m taking a gap year to work, hopefully with Chesapeake Conservation Corps, for a year and applying to grad programs for coastal/marine ecology this fall"

Favorite course: "Honestly the entirety of Chesapeake Semester! (I know everyone who’s done it says that, but it’s really true)"

Fun fact: "I’m a third-generation WAC student, both my mom and my gramma have their masters degrees from Washington College"

Advice for students: "Use winter break of your senior year to your advantage, if you write even just a few sentences or a paragraph every day, you’ll have a really solid rough draft by the time the semester starts!"

  • Will Reid (Class of 2021) 

  • will

Hometown: Mount Laurel, NJ

Thesis: "Direct Anthropogenic Actions and Their Effects on Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor)"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Getting to study my absolute favorite animal! I also really love those lightbulb moments where I think of a connection or new idea to research. I know I’ve sent Dr. Bible, my advisor, plenty of emails being like “Can we meet up to discuss X? Also what do you think about Y or Z?”'

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: "Doing it all virtual has made it a little bit more draining than I would have liked. I really wanted to be able to sit in the library on campus and just start typing, but instead I’ve been sitting at a desk in my living room. It’s been tough, but I’m super excited to be back on campus, and I’m gonna try to get into a groove with it."

Plans for After Graduation: "My other major is Theatre, and I really want to try to find work as an actor first and foremost. However, I plan to use the ENV degree to help provide some stability in my life. I interned at the Philadelphia Zoo two summers ago, and I plan to try and apply for a job in the education department there. I love working with animals, and I’d be in the city! You know “Don’t Stop Believin’”? Yeah, I’m that city boy. I’d also love to, if ever given the platform, advocate for environmental needs. You know Leonardo Dicaprio? Like he’s both an actor and environmentalist, and he’s honestly just a role model for me."

  • Emma Dodsworth (Class of 2021) 

  • emmad

Hometown: Port Republic, MD

Thesis: "Hatchery Oyster Production in the Chesapeake Bay and the Impact of Climate Change on Key Water Quality Parameters"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Getting to work with data from the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery where I spent the summer as an intern"

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: "Making sure I can support my hypothesis concisely within the page limit."

Plans for After Graduation: "I have applied to graduate school at William & Mary's School of Marine Science at VIMS for a degree in Fisheries Science."

Favorite Course Taken: "Chesapeake Semester"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I have my black belt in tae kwon do."

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: "Find something that you are truly passionate about and let that guide your research!"

  • Willie Cosner (Class of 2021) willie

Hometown: Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Thesis: "A Discussion of the Ecological Impacts of Trout Stocking and a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Stocking Trout in Pennsylvania’s Class A and B Wild Trout Streams"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Learning and incorporating GIS"

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience: "Blending environmental science and economics together"

Plans for After Graduation: "Find an internship or job restoring fish populations or monitoring streams"

Favorite Course Taken: "All of the Chesapeake Semester courses"

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I drove across the country this summer in four days"

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: "Make an annotated bibliography for your sources and stay ahead of deadlines" 

  • Devin Valcich (Class of 2020) 

  • devin

 Hometown: Annapolis, MD

Thesis: "The Invasion of the Northern Snakehead, Channa argus, in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Impacts and Potential Management Solutions"

Most Exciting Part of your Thesis Experience: "Developing my own recipe for a “Chesapeake inspired” fish & chips meal featuring the Northern Snakehead."

Most Difficult Part of your Thesis Experience:" Being on a different timeline than everybody else because I graduated in the fall rather than the spring and started my thesis while studying abroad in Ireland."

Plans for After Graduation: "I hope to be involved in environmental education and communication but honestly I would be happy doing field work or lab work too - as long as I get to stay in the Chesapeake region."

Favorite Course Taken: "All of the Chesapeake Semester courses! Especially the comparative study in Belize and Guatemala."

Fun Fact About Yourself: "I was able to study abroad in Ireland, Bermuda, Belize, and Guatemala during my two and a half years at WAC."

Advice for Students When Completing Their Thesis: "DON’T PROCRASTINATE!!! The deadlines are all fairly easy to meet as long as you aren’t trying to write 5 pages 12 hours before the deadline."