The Virginia Institute of Marine Science: an opportunity to explore and engage in research

In my experience, I’ve found most William and Mary students either don’t know what the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) is or think of it as a mystery institution somewhere off in the mist. I can dispel both these fears; VIMS is William and Mary’s “sister school” for marine science graduate research, and it does indeed exist — just take a 20 minute drive down the Colonial Parkway.

This year, I’ve worked as an EcoAmbassador, blogging about sustainable research and projects happening at VIMS. It has been a truly exciting experience getting to speak with the knowledgeable faculty and staff, and I have learned quite a bit about marine science as I collected stories and information to post. My blog has two goals, as I see it: to educate and engage.

I hope to educate William and Mary students (as well as any Internet passersby) about currently ongoing research at VIMS, and how it fits under a larger umbrella of sustainability. In pursuit of this goal, I speak to VIMS professors about their chosen fields of study: their past work, the current thinking on their topic and what the future might hold. There are some subjects I am already knowledgeable on, such as sea level rise. Other topics, such as marine protected areas, I had never encountered before. I had to educate myself before I could hope to write about it in a blog to educate others.

So, William and Mary, I pose this question to you — want to get involved? Take a look at my blogs, and see if a topic or project interests you.

I also hope to engage William and Mary undergraduate students in said research. To that end, I have two short sections at the end of each and every one of my blogs: “Want to learn more?” and “Want to get involved?” To learn more, I post links to academic papers related to the blog topic, written by the VIMS researchers themselves. To get involved, I list the current ongoing research projects at VIMS looking for volunteers, as well as contact information.

So, William and Mary, I pose this question to you — want to get involved? Take a look at my blogs, and see if a topic or project interests you. Fascinated by marshes and sea level rise? Matt Kirwan, assistant professor at VIMS, is looking for volunteers. Is exploring marine population dynamics calling to you? Assistant professor David Kaplan has some projects you may be interested in. Environmental education more your style? Look to volunteer at the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Discovery Lab, and contact Jaclyn Beck.

Regardless of your interests, I invite you to learn about and engage with the exciting research happening at VIMS.

Email Claire Goydan at Access Claire’s blog at


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