Michael Kemp ~ Coastal Ecologist

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Offspring on an Equal Footing

Working at sea
Working with graduate students is at the heart of much of Dr. Michael Kemp's work. In fact, he says that when he looks back over his career, one of the things he looks at most fondly is his interactions with them. "Graduate students are an important deal for me, extremely important," says Michael.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has a small but world class graduate program. "We've invested in this graduate program and I think it's been fabulously effective, given that we don't have a department, we're a research center," says Michael. "My colleagues are great advisors so the graduate program now is strong and well supported."

According to Michael's colleague and long-time friend Walter Boynton, Michael himself is one of those great advisors. "He teaches them what critical thinking is all about," says Walter. "High standards, focused energy, and great results. They morph from being students to being colleagues. It's a real skill, it does not just happen. He puts the effort into making it happen."

Through COSEE, Michael has been able to interact with his graduate students in a new way, working with them on developing the dead-zone module. He is pleased with what they gained from the experience, and how well they worked on the team with the undergraduate student and the educator. "They contributed to the effort in an enormous way, "says Michael. "It's a process that creates a product that then becomes a useful tool." And it didn't end with the website; the team was successful in getting a paper published. "They all wrote a paper describing the module, including the lesson plan, and it got published," says Michael proudly.

"I see my students as my collaborators."
Also important was the fact that Michael's students got paid to participate in developing the module. "If graduate students can be paid to participate, and come out with a publication that's useful and also that demonstrates their commitment to participating in science education and outreach – bingo – you got it", he says. "It's on my students' resumes! When they start writing NSF proposals it will be pretty clear to reviewers that they know what they're talking about. And that's very cool."

In fact, the graduate students played no small role in Michael's developing enthusiasm for COSEE. "They pulled me in, they were patient, they were active," he says. "It's my graduate students who I am most happy for. In my heart and soul my dedication to graduate education is real, and that's not going to change. Having them go through this program and learn even more than I'm learning is really great."

Scott Glenn
Walter Boynton, Ph.D., Professor - University of Maryland
Michael Kemp as an advisor.