Student Profiles

Ratsirin (Prae) Supcharoen '06

Prae Supcharoen

Ratsirin (Prae) Supcharoen '06

Major: Geophysics (interdisciplinary)
Home: Sichon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Four years ago, when I first came to the U.S. for a Thai student summer program at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, the program coordinators took me and my friends to visit Bowdoin. I immediately liked the campus and community environment of Brunswick. When I spoke with my college counselor at Worcester Academy, I found that a liberal arts education suited me best as it gave me an opportunity to study in other fields outside my field of interest, which is marine science. Bowdoin has particularly strong science departments and a Coastal Study Center that allows students to perform hands-on marine research. After I was accepted to Bowdoin, I came to visit again during an open house in the spring. During my second visit, I stayed with my Thai friends at Bowdoin and experienced both academic and student life. I enjoyed my second visit so much that I immediately decided to come to Bowdoin. In addition, beyond the strong academics and the campus environment, the excellent food in our dining hall is yet another reason that I chose Bowdoin.

Why did you choose you major?
I grew up in Sichon, a small town in Nakhon Si Thammarat, which is a province on the east coast of southern Thailand. As part of Thai culture, my parents taught me to be grateful to the people and places that made up my childhood. Thus, I have always wanted to give something back to my hometown and my country. With support from the Thai government, I set my long-term goal to study oceanography and to eventually work as a researcher for the government. At Bowdoin, I decided to major in geophysics, an interdisciplinary major, because crucial aspects of geology and physics are related to oceanography. Studying geology gives me a background in the earth and the environment. I study physics to better understand the mechanisms that control the movements of the earth and the ocean. Further, I think Bowdoin has a particularly wonderful geology department. Because the department is small, students know professors and lab instructors very well. I certainly learned a lot from them and we have had many fun and interesting field trips outside of Bowdoin to field sites.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
That is difficult to say because I have enjoyed so many courses at Bowdoin. First off, my favorite course was Marine Environmental Geology with visiting professor Collin Roesler and lab assistant Cathryn Field. That course was a great introduction to oceanography and what I enjoyed was that we studied properties and characteristics of sediment locally at Dingley Island, Harpswell, as part of a service-learning project to figure out the quality of mudflat for the Dingley Island community. Another favorite class was Marine Geology (not to be confused with Marine Environmental Geology), which was another service-learning course, with Professor Ed Laine. Besides learning about marine geological features underneath the ocean from readings, we studied sediments and seismic reflections at the bottom of Quahog Bay in eastern Casco Bay. I liked both service-learning courses because I was able learn and apply the knowledge gained in class directly in the local community and through the class project.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I am currently researching an honor's thesis with my advisor, Professor Ed Laine, on the application of radon (Rn-222) as a radiochemical tracer for ground water discharge into the coastal ocean. This project is part of group research effort by Professor Ed Laine, Dr. Daniel McCorkle, and Dr. Matt Charette (of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) to study submarine groundwater discharge underneath Quahog Bay. Groundwater transports nutrients and pollutants into the estuary and thus it has biological and ecological impacts on the bay. Therefore, it is important to quantify and study the groundwater discharge for the further purpose of water management within the estuarine region. For this project, we are using radon as a tracer for groundwater discharge because there is often relatively higher radon activity in groundwater, compared to streams and the seawater. The radon measurements and other related data were collected this summer as part of my summer fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Right now, I am working on the radon budget in Quahog Bay by using a simple mass balance model to figure out significant sources and sinks of radon. At the end, I will use the results from the radon budget to approximate the amount of groundwater discharge into Quahog Bay.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have worked as an audio-visual technician since my first year at Bowdoin. During my junior year, I also worked as a grader for the physics and mathematics departments and as a lab assistant for Professor Peter Lea of the Geology Department preparing core samples for sediment analysis. This semester I am working as a tutor for an Introduction to Physics class. Also, I am currently helping Professor Rachel Beane of the Geology Department with her research studying the microstructure of quartz in sectored garnet by using the Electron Backscatter Diffractometer.

In the extracurricular realm I am a member of I-club (International club) at Bowdoin. During my freshman year, I participated in the international festival, SAAMELAFEST, and helped to organize the Thai fashion show during the Asian American Week.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
This is another tough question because I have had many wonderful memories at Bowdoin. Many memories come simply from the times that I spent with my four-year roommate, Michelle Chan (2006), and other friends. One of my best Bowdoin memories is a surprise birthday party that Michelle and other friends organized for me last year. Since I love both spicy food and chocolate, they bought me a chili pepper piñata filled with candies and chocolate. I remember being blindfolded and trying to use a tennis racket (we didn't have a stick) to break the piñata for the chocolate inside. I spent almost five minutes trying to break the piñata and nearly broke the racket in the process. After the candies and chocolate, we ate ice cream cake and played Cranium, a board game.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I planned to go to graduate school in chemical oceanography. My research interest is to study both naturally occurred and artificial radioisotopes and their application as a tracer to study oceanic processes.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
For me, I can say that I made the right decision to come to Bowdoin because I have enjoyed my time at Bowdoin both studying and making friends. Bowdoin is an outstanding source of academic knowledge, diverse extracurricular activities, and friendship. I can tell you that we have all of these qualities at Bowdoin, but how much benefit and enjoyment you get is up to you as a student. At the end, it all depends on you whether you choose to take advantage of all the great opportunities Bowdoin has to offer you. My advice is to stay organized, proactive, and spend your time at Bowdoin getting the most you can out of the best college.

Story posted on September 29, 2005

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