Alumni and Careers

Alex Moore

Alex Moore

Class of: 2003

Location: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Major(s): Classics

Minor(s): Biology

Following med school at Tulane, and my one-year fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology at Boston Children's Hospital, I accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

What is your current job (position) and what do you do specifically?

After graduating from Bowdoin in 2003 with a major in Classics and a minor in Biology, I taught high school Latin for four years. My first teaching job was at the Salisbury School, a boys' boarding school in the northwest corner of CT. After two years at Salisbury, I took a job at my high school alma mater, Buckingham Browne Nichols School in Cambridge, MA.

My Bowdoin Classics major (which included a semester abroad in Rome at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies during my Junior spring) prepared me well for the demands of teaching high school Latin. At Salisbury School, I taught all levels of Latin, from I to V. At BB N, 11 out of 12 students in my Virgil AP class received a 5 on the AP – a school record. (Of course, I had some excellent students!) I loved both of my teaching jobs, but at the same time, I wished to pursue a career in medicine (an interest that started at Bowdoin, encouraged by cross-country teammates, three of whom are also doctors now).

In the fall of 2007, I matriculated at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. As a lifelong New Englander, it was interesting to live in a different part of the country, especially a place as vibrant as the Big Easy. In 2011, I graduated from Tulane with my M.D. and started my intern year at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, in Newton, MA. After completing my intern year, I began a three-year residency in Anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. While at MGH, I also had the very good fortune of meeting my wife, Genevieve, who was a co-resident in anesthesia at the time. Genevieve was a biology major at Yale, but took Latin courses at Yale for fun, so she thought it was interesting that I had taught Latin.

I'm now an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt.

As an aside, my youngest sister, Louisa Moore, Bowdoin Class of 2018, is also a Classics major! She too has Professor Higginbotham as an advisor. I had a wonderful experience during my four years beneath the pines and look forward to my next visit to Brunswick!

Emily Grason

Emily Grason

Class of: 2004

Major(s): Biology

Emily Grason is a graduate of the University of Washington, Seattle's Ph.D. program. Emily says: "I am interested in understanding ecological interactions through the lens of non-native species. Species introductions often cause noticeable disruptions to community function and provide "natural" systems on which to test hypotheses about how species respond to novel selective forces. For non-native species, a novel habitat can be a double-edged sword in terms of predators.

About

Typically, when species are translocated to a new environment, they leave behind them a suite of "natural enemies", predators, parasites, competitors, and pathogens. This can be good news for the non-native, an occasionally translates to increased success in the non-native habitat, growing bigger, faster, making more babies. However, the non-native also faces a line-up of unfamiliar threats, including predators to the novel habitat. How do they handle these threats? How do these interactions influence the probability that a non-native species will become invasive?"

At Bowdoin Emily studied aspects of the ecology of an invasive species of bryozoan and completed an honors project: Influence of an invasive bryozoan on Onchidoris muricata prey selection in the Gulf of Maine, with mentoring from Coastal Studies Scholar Marney Pratt.

Molly Wright

Molly Wright

Class of: 2005

Major(s): Biology

Minor(s): English

Molly has a Ph. D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a scientist at the UC Museum of Palentology where she is studying the evolution of monogamy in Lysiosquilloid mantis shrimps.

About

She is interested in both how monogamy has evolved in the mantis shrimps and how environmental and demographic factors affect whether mantis shrimps form social pairs that mate exclusively in wild populations. She uses a combination of phylogenetic methods, field studies in French Polynesia, and molecular techniques to try to understand the ultimate causes of monogamy in mantis shrimps.

Molly conducts most of her field research in the coral back reef ecosystems of Moorea, French Polynesia, at the University of California's Gump Pacific Research Station. She also visits museums (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Australian Museum) to study the morphological traits of extant mantis shrimps. She conducts most of her laboratory research in the Molecular Phylogenetics Lab and the UCMP molecular labs.

"I really love exploring marine ecosystems: I can't think of a better way to spend my time than investigating the tide pools and kelp forests of California or the coral reefs and sand flats of French Polynesia! As a scientist, I get to pursue answers to questions that fascinate me and I have a great mix of field work, lab work, writing, and teaching that keeps me on my toes."

At Bowdoin, Molly was a Rusack Fellow at the Coatal Studies Center Marine Lab, summer 2004, and an INBRE Post Graduate Fellow summer 2005. Under the guidance of Amy Johnson, Molly completed an honors project titled: Growth and metabolism in the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Becca Selden

Becca Selden

Class of: 2006

Major(s): Biology

Minor(s): Hispanic Studies

Becca Selden, a Marine ecologist, studies fish populations. But to better understand fish, which are threatened by climate change and harvesting, she also has to understand people. Besides researching the dynamics of ocean ecosystems, she also studies how fishermen in coastal communities are changing along with our changing oceans.

About

Currently a National Science Foundation post-doctoral research fellow at Rutgers University, Selden’s curiosity about oceans began as a child, when she explored tide pools on family visits to southern California. At age 11, she went snorkeling for the first time and recalls how amazed she was to discover a colorful, mysterious world invisible to those on land. She knew early on she wanted to devote her life to marine biology.

Selden recently returned to Bowdoin—the place where her childhood wonder began the transformation into adult expertise—to give a talk and meet with students interested in marine biology careers. She told students how invaluable it was to her to be able to collaborate with a faculty mentor here—Amy Johnson, Bowdoin’s James R. & Helen Lee Billingsley Professor of Marine Biology. As a junior and senior, Selden received a Beckman Scholarship to support her research with Johnson. They studied whether the scent of crab predators would alter sea urchin morphology and development.

Selden urged students to take advantage of the research opportunities available to them at Bowdoin.

“None of my friends who wanted to do research here were turned away,” she said.
After graduating from college, Selden traveled the world on a Watson Fellowship, studying sea turtle conservation in small communities in South Africa, Malaysia, the Cayman Islands, Australia, and Panama. During this year of travel, her thinking about marine conservation began to shift.

“My generation of scientists is looking at having their work make an impact,” she said. “We have observed in our lifetimes the decline of species, even extinctions. We have a profound appreciation that our actions are influencing ecological systems.” —Becca Selden ’06

She described evolving from an idealistic young girl focused on conservation—and saving animals like leopards at any cost—to a seasoned scientist who is mindful of how important natural resources are to sustaining people throughout the world. “I realized that people can’t just up and stop what they are doing,” she said. “So working with communities to design solutions that are more of a win-win is the way to go. I’ve gone all the way to the other side. I don’t see any marine life as overly sacred. Millions of people rely on seafood for their main source of protein.” Instead, she concluded, she wants to see better, more sustainable management of fisheries.

Selden’s interest in the complexity of sustainability steered her graduate studies. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Selden looked more deeply into “the ecology of a marine system that was embedded within our socioeconomic system, one that people are dependent on for their livelihood.” There she investigated the effects of smaller-sized California sheephead, whose body sizes have decreased due to overfishing, on sea urchins (which sheephead like to eat) and on kelp forests. Kelp is a critical habitat and food source for many species and disappears when there is an overabundance of sea urchins. “We lose biodiversity when we mess with species in this way,” she said.

In her recent research, Selden has been looking at how fishing and climate change are affecting predator-prey relationships along the Atlantic seaboard. She is also investigating how fishing communities are adapting, or not adapting, to climate change and shifting fish populations.

“In the Northeast, we’ve seen rapidly warming waters and in response, species have shifted farther north,” she said. “One is the American lobster, which has moved its center of distribution 200 kilometers north over the last four decades.”

While that has been good for lobstermen in Maine, it has hurt lobstering communities south of us. “Because it is such a valuable fishery, each boat has a territory and is somewhat aggressive about maintaining that territory,” Selden said. “That makes it difficult for fishermen to move as their fish move.”

Two top fish predators Selden has been focusing on are cod and spiny dogfish, which eat, among other things, lobster and herring. Predators are important to the entire food web, and if they are reduced, it sends shockwaves through the ecosystem, leading to dramatic changes in other species. Cod, a popular cold-water species, has been vastly depleted from fishing. Meanwhile, spiny dogfish prefer warmer waters and are not, at the moment, a preferred fish to eat.

Selden predicts that in a warmer world, cod will not fare well. “The geographic range of cod will decline as water warms and carbon dioxide increases,” she said. Even if we stopped fishing cod entirely to return the depleted cod stocks to their former glory, cod will decline, she added.

However, spiny dogfish could move in and take over the functional role of cod. “From an ecosystem perspective, this is potentially good news, in that the impact on the forage community may be small because there could be compensation from a warm-water predator,” Selden said. “The net ecosystem effect might be neutral.”

Selden said that no matter where she ends up in her career—at a government research center or at a liberal arts college—she wants to be involved in marine resource policy. “My generation of scientists is looking at having their work make an impact,” she said. “We have observed in our lifetimes the decline of species, even extinctions. We have a profound appreciation that our actions are influencing ecological systems.”

This profile is taken from a story by Rebecca Goldfine, October 26, 2016.

Emily Norton

Emily Norton

Class of: 2010

Major(s): Biology

Emily Norton is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow with the Maine Coastal Program. She received an M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Hawaii.

About

Emily was nominated for the NOAA Fellowship program by Hawaii Sea Grant, and matched by the Maine Coastal Program to provide a baseline characterization in the Gulf of Maine for developing Maine’s Ocean Resources Strategy and implementing Maine’s ocean planning efforts.

Emily was a Doherty summer fellow at Bowdoin working under Amy Johnson's guidance. She completed an honors project titled: Mathematical modeling of underwater walking in the green crab, Carcinus maenas

Roger

Roger Brothers

Class of: 2011

Major(s): Biology

Adult sea turtles find their way back to the beaches where they hatched by seeking out unique magnetic signatures along the coast, according to a new article co-authored by Roger Brothers ’11.

About

“Sea turtles migrate across thousands of miles of ocean before returning to nest on the same stretch of coastline where they hatched, but how they do this has mystified scientists for more than fifty years,” said Brothers, who is a PhD student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He studied marine biology at Bowdoin. “Our results provide evidence that turtles imprint on the unique magnetic field of their natal beach as hatchlings and then use this information to return as adults.”

While earlier studies have shown that sea turtles use the Earth’s magnetic field as a guide while out at sea, it has remained unclear whether adult turtles also depend on magnetic features to recognize and return to the nesting sites chosen by their mothers before them, the researchers explain.

Several years ago, UNC’s Kenneth Lohmann, co-author of the new study, proposed that animals including sea turtles and salmon might imprint on magnetic fields early in life, but that idea has proven difficult to test in the open ocean. In the new study, Brothers and Lohmann took a different approach by studying changes in the behavior of nesting turtles over time.

“We reasoned that if turtles use the magnetic field to find their natal beaches, then naturally occurring changes in the Earth’s field might influence where turtles nest,” Brothers said.

To investigate, the researchers analyzed a 19-year database of loggerhead nesting along the eastern coast of Florida, the largest sea turtle rookery in North America. They found a strong association between the spatial distribution of turtle nests and subtle shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field.

In some times and places, the Earth’s field shifted so that the magnetic signatures of adjacent locations along the beach moved closer together. When that happened, nesting turtles packed themselves in along a shorter stretch of coastline, just as the researchers had predicted. In places where magnetic signatures diverged, sea turtles spread out and laid their eggs in nests that were fewer and farther between.

Brothers said that little is known about how turtles detect the geomagnetic field. Most likely, tiny magnetic particles in the turtles’ brains respond to the Earth’s field and provide the basis for the magnetic sense, but no one knows for sure.
Sea turtles likely go to great lengths to find the places where they began life because successful nesting requires a combination of environmental features that are rare: soft sand, the right temperature, few predators, and an easily accessible beach.

“The only way a female turtle can be sure that she is nesting in a place favorable for egg development is to nest on the same beach where she hatched,” Brothers said. “The logic of sea turtles seems to be that ‘if it worked for me, it should work for my offspring.’”

Kevin O'Connor

Kevin O'Connor

Class of: 2011

Location: Worcester, MA

Major(s): Biology

Kevin O'Connor graduated from Bowdoin in 2011 with a degree in biology, and is originally from Westwood, MA. He is currently enrolled in the MD-PhD program run through the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Medical Scientist Training Program.

More About Kevin

After Bowdoin, Kevin began working in a lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he studied molecular mechanisms underlying cancer susceptibility and targeted therapy for ovarian cancer for three years. During this time he also completed his prerequisites and took some additional coursework at Harvard University Extension School. After Kevin decided to go forward with applying to medical school, he began the Master’s of Science (M.S.) in Medical Sciences (MAMS) Program at Boston University School of Medicine. During Kevin's second year in MAMS, he returned to the D’Andrea Lab at Dana-Farber to complete his thesis and worked as a teaching assistant for the MAMS Biochemistry and Cell Biology course. Kevin applied to both MD and MD-PhD programs, but ultimately chose to attend the MD-PhD program UMASS because of its well-rounded and collaborative student community, reputation for excellence in research and clinical medicine, and location.

Sasha Cruz

Sasha Cruz

Class of: 2012

Location: San Antonio, TX

Major(s): Biology, Hispanic Studies

Sasha Cruz graduated from Bowdoin in 2012 with a double major in biology and Spanish, and is originally from San Antonio, Texas. Sasha is currently enrolled in the pharmacy program at Texas A&M University and works as a licensed pharmacist alongside physicians in a collaborative practice managing patients with chronic diseases.

More About Sasha

Between Bowdoin and Texas A&M, Sasha worked in a pharmacy to gain experience and to decide whether or not pharmacy was the career for me, and also taught a Kaplan PCAT course. The year she spent gaining pharmacy experience helped solidify her decision to pursue a career in pharmacy. Sasha grew up in an area of Texas where a shortage of health care existed, and she decided to attend Texas A&M because of the school’s mission and strong commitment to helping increase access to health care in the South Texas region. The pharmacy program at Texas A&M has opened many doors for Sasha, including the amazing opportunity to intern at the Mayo Clinic after her second year of pharmacy school.

Sasha says she would not be where she is today if not for Seth Ramus and Bowdoin Health Professions Advising. She is grateful for the office for its information, encouragement, and guidance before, during, and after the pharmacy school application process.

Tracey Shirey

Tracey Shirey

Class of: 2014

Location: Atlanta, GA

Major(s): Africana Studies, Biology

Tracey Shirey graduated from Bowdoin in 2014 with a double major in biology and Africana studies, and is originally from Waterloo, IA. She is currently enrolled in the MD program at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

More About Tracey

After graduating from Bowdoin, Tracy spent two years in Washington, DC, serving as an AmeriCorp member with AIDS United at Whitman Walker Health, a community health center specializing in LGBT and HIV care. She provided HIV testing and counseling services, facilitated support groups for HIV positive men and women, coordinated a peer mentorship program for individuals newly diagnosed with HIV, and trained individuals in HIV/STI testing, street outreach, and sex education. For her medical training, Tracy knew that she wanted to attend an institution that recognized the importance of both science and service in the study of medicine. She chose Emory because the main training ground of its medical students is Grady Hospital, which is one of the few public hospitals remaining in the country and representative of the University’s commitment to provide healthcare to all residents of Atlanta, regardless of their ability to pay.

Michael Naess

Class of: 1999

Location: Baltimore, MD

Major(s): Music

Minor(s): Biology

Carnegie Hall, Associate Director of Marketing, 2008-2015 Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Director of Marketing, Jan 2016- Sept 2018 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Oct 2018-present