News

Martinez ’22 Sails to Iceland for Oceanographic Research

Melissa Martinez ’22 has been accepted to the STEMSEAS program, a 10-day exploratory experience that will take her to Iceland aboard a research vessel.

STEMSEAS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships) is a program that utilizes National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded oceanographic research ships during their “down time” to allow undergraduate college students to partake in an expedition of their own.

The students who participate in the program sail with experienced faculty mentors and engage in geoscience and oceanography activities, according to the program’s website. Martinez, an environmental studies major from Newark, N.J., will be aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong from Woods Hole, Mass. to Reykjavik, Iceland, from April 28 until May 10. She’ll be with students and environmental studies faculty representing colleges and universities across the country.

Martinez expects the research to focus on climate change and ocean sediment, but while she’s interested in oceanography, she has a real passion for studying marine life.

“I want to work in areas damaged by pollution or natural disasters and rehabilitate animals affected by it,” says Martinez, who explains that she became inspired to pursue that kind of career after taking a conservation class at Ursinus that explores the topic. “Water is an important resource and the oceans are impacted by so many of the harmful things we’re doing on land.”

The trip to Iceland will be Martinez’s first time aboard a vessel and her first real research experience. She says she’s looking forward to pursuing even more research interests in Ursinus environmental studies labs.

While the research trip comes at the end of her second semester at Ursinus, Martinez is grateful for the support she’s received from faculty and flexibility with taking end-of-year exams so that she can participate in the experience.

“It could be a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing and they’ve all been very supportive so that I can go,” Martinez says. “I can’t wait.” —By Ed Moorhouse