Each year Northeastern recognizes students who go above and beyond university requirements to enrich themselves and society via their coop experiences. This year, Marine and Environmental Sciences student Mariah Livernois has been selected as the recipient of the William J. Alcott, Jr. Award for exemplary achievement in both academics and coop.
Like many students, Mariah started Northeastern with a major in mind, but little idea of what her future might hold. Fast forward 5 years and Mariah has taken advantage of three diverse coop opportunities that have allowed her to explore, learn and conduct research along the U.S. Atlantic coast from North Carolina, to Cape Cod to Nahant.
During her first coop at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Mariah worked as a research assistant studying the alga that causes toxic algal blooms known as “red tide”. Here, Mariah developed skills in genetic methods via her work examining genetic variants of the toxic alga.
During her second coop with the Outreach Program at the NU Marine Science Center, Mariah lead educational marine science programs for students, while also planning public events and developing educational materials to share science with the general public.
Mariah’s third coop brought her to the University of North Carolina’s Institute for Marine Sciences, where she worked as a research assistant in two different labs focusing on fisheries ecology and coastal geology. This dual appointment allowed her to work on a variety of projects, learning many techniques in the lab and field. During this time Mariah also conducted an independent research project studying reproduction in seagrasses for her Senior Thesis.
And if three diverse coop positions were not enough, Mariah is spending her last semester working at the Marine Science Center finishing up her thesis project and recently presented her research along side MSC graduate students at the annual Benthic Marine Ecology meeting.
When asked about her coop experiences Mariah explained how they allowed her to learn as much or more than traditional coursework, due to the hands-on and experiential nature of the positions. “When I started at Northeastern, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do.” Mariah explains, “My coop experiences have allowed me to realize my passion for marine ecology research, and to develop the specific research and communication skills I need to pursue this passion.”
As Mariah’s coop advisor points out, her commitment to excellence in both academics and coop make Mariah an ideal candidate for the Alcott Award, which specifically honors students who go above and beyond expectations to use their intellectual accomplishments in creative ways that benefit society.
When she graduates in May, Mariah will bring her knowledge and skills learned at Northeastern to a fisheries ecology research assistant position at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. After that, she says graduate school is in her future, though she is not yet sure where that will take her. One thing is for sure, while she will be missed here at NU, her experiences will serve as an enduring example of the value of experiential learning in preparing students for future success.