Written By: Jason Law, Research Associate Oceanographic Operations for USFCMS
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Congratulations to USFCMS intern Sebastian DiGeronimo for being awarded a competitive UNOLS MATE paid internship for 2019. The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center, funded through NSF as an Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, has been training the next generation of marine science technicians for over 20 years. MATE internships focus on technology and scientific support of marine research rather than academic research, and the program’s focus is to learn by doing. So, over the next few months, Sebastian will be going to sea. A lot. For more on Sebastian’s adventures check out his blog.
Sebastian came to the College in 2018 through a for-credit USFSP undergraduate internship in Dr. Bob Weisberg’s Ocean Circulation Lab working with mooring technician Jay Law, a program made possible through the FIO State Sponsored Shiptime Program. While excellent in the lab setting it was on the deck of a ship that Sebastian was clearly at his best, through long hours and rough seas he consistently rose to the occasion in supporting the science mission. After completing his semester-long internship Sebastian continued to volunteer for all available cruises, assisting with the hard work of assembling research buoys on land and deploying them at sea.
His for-credit and volunteer work in the OCL led to a paid, half-time research technician position with Dr. Frank Mueller-Karger’s IMaRS lab, working alongside researchers Dr. Dan Otis and Dr. Enrique Montes. Sebastian proved a quick study both in the lab and in the field, earning the responsibility of leading the lab’s sampling efforts aboard the R/V Walton Smith as part of NOAA’s South Florida Program and the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network on multiple occasions.
Sebastian’s work in the OCL and IMaRS has opened up career possibilities that he didn’t know existed just a short time ago. As he recently reflected, “I’ve had many opportunities to meet scientists; finding out what they do, how they do it and why. It gives me hope that I too can reach for something bigger than myself.” The MATE program is giving him the opportunity to take that next step to something bigger.
This past weekend, Sebastian traveled to the University of Delaware where he will spend the next two months sailing on the R/V Hugh R. Sharp. His work with the R/V Sharp’s technical team will include CTD casts, dredging operations, deployment and recovery of underwater camera systems while learning deck operations, small boat safety and a host of other technical skills required for a future in the field of marine science technology.
It is a credit to Sebastian’s abilities and initiative that one-year after graduating with a degree in Environmental Science and admittedly having no idea of where to go next, he finds himself on the path to a chosen and exciting profession in marine science. Furthermore, Sebastian is proof-positive that these types of STEM outreach programs providing quality, motivated undergraduates with real world experience in the field of marine science can be vital, cost-effective ways to assist in training our next generation of sea going technicians.
As he made his rounds thanking his mentors he summed it up simply, “I’m pumped to be getting my career started.”
Congratulations Sebastian, we’re pumped for you as well!