Aubrey Church, PSM student at SMAST
Aubrey Ellertson Church (Photo credit: Trevor Holden Photography)
Feature Stories 2021: Aubrey Church ’22: Choosing the PSM program
Aubrey Church ’22: Choosing the PSM program

Aubrey talks about SMAST’s cooperative research opportunities & how the Professional Science Master’s program prepares students for career advancement.

Attending the School for Marine Science & Technology

“I am excited to be at SMAST to connect with my lab mates and to meet other students in my program. When I look around the classroom, I see future fisheries stock assessment scientists, I see those pioneering conservation gear engineering techniques to allow fishermen and protected species to coexist. I see individuals passionate about restoring and rebuilding stocks, or understanding policy and law. I think it is a great opportunity at SMAST to meet a variety of different people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets and to really become close with future scientists in our region.” 

Collaborative research opportunities

“I also hope to bring a unique perspective to SMAST with my professional experience working alongside the commercial fishing industry. I believe fishermen are very knowledgeable about their local waters and the fish they harvest, and I hope that fisheries science will continue to support and embrace a collaborative approach to data collection that effectively engages the commercial fishing industry in addressing data needs.”

Choosing the PSM program

“Pursuing my PSM degree provides me with an opportunity for career advancement, improved quantitative skills, and gain confidence to design and carry out research projects from start to finish. I am looking forward to taking courses in project management, science leadership, and communication and believe with an advanced degree from SMAST I can set myself up to be more competitive in the workforce. I am a huge advocate of collaborative research and some of my greatest satisfactions come from working directly with fishermen and building trust between industry and the scientific community. I hope to continue to expand those collaborations and build stronger connections through my experiences at SMAST.”

Program flexibility & work-life balance

“I enjoy the PSM program because it gives me the flexibility to work full time at the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation while also attending courses at SMAST. As an undergraduate at Franklin and Marshall College in PA, I earned a liberal arts degree in Biology. Since then, I have gained fisheries experience as a prior Northeast Fisheries Observer/ At-Sea Monitor, and through the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation where I gained an appreciation of the unique challenges that commercial fishermen face.

During my professional work experience, I have seen how important collaboration among fisheries managers, state and federal biologists, and commercial fishermen is to the success of a project. It fosters a sense of pride among commercial fishermen and fosters a community based on trust, collaboration, and respect. Attending SMAST, allows me to continue those successful partnerships, and create new ones with the scientists and faculty at the University.”