Alumni Spotlight: Jess Veo

Jess Veo holding a camera

"My Shoals journey began in the summer of 2018, when I was one of two marine mammal interns studying the seals on neighboring Duck Island. As an intern, I received complete support from a whole team of mentors, from my project mentors Dr. Bogomolni, Dr. Lysiak, and Lisa Sette, to the broader team of intern mentors and post-doctoral fellows who helped all the interns daily. My intern cohort even got twice-weekly lessons in the programming language “R”, to learn how to use statistical functions and make graphs for our data. In my prior experiences in academia I had noticed a stark hierarchy between student and faculty. That was not the case at SML, however. During my internship I was viewed as a researcher and my ideas were always valued. Being treated as an equal was empowering and gave me confidence in my abilities as a scientist moving forward.

Since SML, I continued my research studying harbor seal stomach contents while finishing my senior year at UMass Amherst. I presented my Shoals research at two conferences, the Greater Atlantic Stranding Region Conference and the Regional Association for Research in the Gulf of Maine. In the summer of 2019 I was an intern at International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Rescue, where I got to assist in necropsies as well as the release of live-stranded dolphins. Now, I am volunteering with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Center for Coastal Studies on a research project which uses underwater cameras to observe how seals and other animals interact with gillnets deployed off Cape Cod. While continuing to work on my research, I am beginning to apply to Ph.D. programs, focusing on marine mammal ecology. If I had not been an intern at SML I may have never been introduced to the world of marine mammal science, which I am now immersed in. For that reason and so many others, my SML internship has been the most formative experience of my career thus far, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it!"

-Jess Veo, SML '18 Undergraduate Researcher