“I have really valued the opportunities I’ve had to work on ongoing fisheries issues–independently and collaboratively,” says Brooke Lowman who will soon complete her PhD program in Living Marine Resources Science and Management at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology. Conducting research to support the management of sustainable fisheries in an effort to help regulators ensure food security is one of the aspects of her research she admires most. “It’s a pretty amazing thing that as students, we’re able to fully engage in the fishery stock assessment and management processes.”
Brooke says she enjoys the stimulating course and lab work along with the proximity to the ocean, and the team spirit as well. “I have been trusted and treated as a valued collaborator, and I have been able to see in near real-time how my work can add to sustainable fisheries management,” she says. “I also love attending conferences. Who wouldn’t? I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to present my research at multiple international conferences, and it is an enriching experience to share ideas, learn about what else is going on in our field, and meet so many brilliant people from around the world.”
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Stock Assessment Student Review Group is one such experience. “Along with my faculty advisor, I co-chaired groups of graduate students to carefully review fishery stock assessments to ensure that established methods are followed and to provide a summary of the technical documents to aid the expert working group in providing scientific advice to the relevant management bodies.”
Multi-layered community involvement
Brooke led a collaboration with UMassD Artist-in-Residence Roz Crews to bring a permanent art installation to SMAST. “The art collaboration was my first foray into working truly across disciplines,” she says. “It also taught me the lesson of seizing an unexpected opportunity from simply being in the right place at the right time. I met the Artist-in-Residence coincidentally only a few days after having discussed with faculty and students how nice it would be to have something on the walls of the new SMAST campus.” The collaboration brought together CVPA students with SMAST students, faculty, and staff to learn from each other and ultimately bring a suite of photographs to the previously bare walls.
She credits her work as a lab manager and coordinator of a marine science workshop for the 2019 UMassD STEM4Girls event with enhancing her leadership abilities. She is currently a Quantitative Fisheries Ecologist for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in the Cooperative Research Branch where she develops statistical models and data visualizations to help improve our understanding of the northern shortfin squid stock and how it is impacted.
“I walked into my current position ready to contribute meaningfully from day one. My research and participation in the vast activities during my time at SMAST have prepared me for a career in fisheries science,” she says. “My roles as lab manager and co-chair of the stock assessment review group provided a relevant experience for my career ambitions as a fishery stock assessment scientist and also gave the opportunity to network with a wide range of other professionals within and beyond our region.”
A nourishing academic environment
Brooke will soon defend her dissertation titled “Fishery Dependent Data for Stock Assessments, Fishery Management, and Maximizing Yield” and says her research has shaped her educational experience by providing opportunities to collaborate with scientists from other institutions and government bodies. “I’ve been able to participate in many different groups and have benefited from hearing the perspectives of fishermen and processing plant representatives, academic scientists, government scientists, and fisheries managers.”
Knowing that her mentors value her contributions and view her as a collaborator has been major sources of inspiration while working through the rigorous PhD program. “The faculty are supportive and genuinely value teaching and mentorship, and that makes such a huge difference to students,” she says. Brooke also notes that while she has been given the space to work independently, she could always schedule a call or a meeting for guidance and perspective with her faculty advisor. “I couldn’t have asked for a better advisor. Dr. Steve Cadrin is well-respected in his field and is involved in many projects, but he is always available for students.”