Coastal Sustainability Institute > Education > Advancing a career through undergraduate research

Advancing a career through undergraduate research

As a marine biology major at Northeastern, Benjamin Moran seized every opportunity to conduct undergraduate research. These experiences—ranging from working in Northeastern labs to studying habitats on the shores of Panama—led to prestigious scholarships and a promising future as a scholar and researcher.

Among other achievements, Moran earned a Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, and a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to exceptional college sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue research careers in STEM. These awards enabled him to expand his knowledge and field studies in areas such as evolutionary genetics and biogeography.

“He’s an intellectual tour de force, with maturity and vision beyond his years,” says one mentor, CSI executive director Geoff Trussell.

Moran, who graduated in May 2018, says participating in Northeastern’s Three Seas Program was especially transformative. During this yearlong program, he took graduate-level courses and studied ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine, coral reef and tropical terrestrial ecosystems in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the Pacific Northwest subtidal at Friday Harbor Laboratories in Washington state.

In Panama, Moran met Oscar Puebla, a professor at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. Intrigued by Puebla’s groundbreaking research into the evolution and ecology of tropical reef fish, Moran applied for and secured a research co-op in Puebla’s lab.

A scholarship helped fund Moran’s six months of research at GEOMAR, where he worked with scientists across the world and studied the behavior, coloration, and genomics of Caribbean reef fish to better understand how evolution creates biodiversity in our oceans.

The experience, Moran says, “left me with a valuable network of scientific peers, cultural agility, and the knowledge necessary to pursue similar work as a doctoral student.”

Author: CSI Staff