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By Lan Nguyen ’23 and Caroline Stamm ’24
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  • Shoals Marine Laboratory
  • Animal Science
  • Animals

Cornell CALS Animal Science major, Lan Nguyen ’23, spent 56 days of her 2022 summer on an island off the coast of Maine where she completed a minor in marine biology at Shoals Marine Laboratory – a remote field station located on Appledore Island, Maine, that is jointly operated by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire. Below, Lan shares highlights from her summer on the island.

What were some of your favorite experiences with Shoals?

I loved the birds (especially seagulls) that inhabit the island. I was able to observe seagulls from the time they had laid eggs to when they hatched and even name a few of the babies.

Above all, I appreciated how much the Shoals staff made the island feel at home. There were constant reminders to stay positive, love each other, and enjoy all that nature offers.

3 takeaways from a summer at Shoals

1. Shoals provided first-hand experience to discover what life as a marine biologist looks like. By the end of the program, I realized I know how to identify most of the common species found on Appledore island and across the Gulf of Maine. The Underwater Research course trained me to dive in the ocean every day and home my field research skills.

3 takeaways from a summer at Shoals

2. The program gave me a chance to meet wonderful like-minded people who care deeply for the health of the ocean and the natural world. I also had the opportunity to work with experts in different scientific fields.

3 takeaways from a summer at Shoals

3. Shoals became a home where I developed lasting friendships. Everyone’s generous spirit and support meant so much to me, and I feel very lucky to have worked alongside them. 

three students take notes
group of people smile outside the underwater research center
Lan Nguyen smiles in front of a sunset

How did your experiences at Shoals further your interest in animal science?

I took four courses at Shoals — Marine Mammal Biology, Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates, Ecology and the Marine Environment and Underwater Research. I learned about climate change in the Gulf of Maine, diversity among marine vertebrates, and how rising temperatures are affecting species distribution. I also explored the impacts of human activities, such as ocean noise pollution or vessel strikes, on marine mammals and researched the relationship between abiotic factors and species richness on Appledore island.

At Shoals, the knowledge I was taught and the experiences I accumulated helped me gain more confidence to continue learning, pursuing animal science and my minor in marine biology.

Caroline Stamm '24 is a student writer for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science and assisted in the development of this article.

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