2022 Graduate Stories

Passionate About Interdisciplinary Science, Student Researcher Credits RWU with her Job and Future

By Melanie Thibeault
A headshot of Hannah Sterling

Honors student Hannah Sterling ’22, a Marine Biology and Chemistry double major and math minor, will draw from her extensive research experience at RWU in her new position as a research technician at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine. In the lab, Sterling will assist with a project analyzing algae in marine environments.  

Research as a First-Year Student: “I did research at RWU for all four years, as well as a senior thesis. It was really easy to get involved in research here. All four years, I worked on a cyanide fishing project with Dr. Andy Rhyne, helping with the analytical chemistry side. I had so much lab time and time personally with my mentors and professors that helped me gain a lot of confidence and independence in the lab. In ‘Intro to Marine Biology,’ I got to go out on the (‘InVinceble Spirit’ research) boat and learned oceanographic techniques. For a marine ecology class, we went out on the boat to do sampling and used a lot of advanced equipment. I got research as a freshman, which I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”   

Invaluable Internship: “I did an internship at Bigelow, funded by the National Science Foundation, the summer before my senior year. I was working on an environmental chemistry project that studied oil spills and how they were broken down by bacteria in the ocean. Doing research 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, and living on campus, I was immersed in the scientific community. That helped me decide getting this (Bigelow) job would be something I would enjoy.” 

Interdisciplinary Studies Prepare for Career: “I’m really passionate about interdisciplinary science. Doing both Marine Biology and Chemistry, both majors had a lot of valuable classes that helped me in understanding my job and what the responsibilities require. (The Bigelow Laboratory job) is a biogeochemist-based job. It’s an interdisciplinary field of research. The biogeochemistry class I’m in right now is very applicable to this job. Getting this job and setting myself up for the future is a direct result of going to RWU.” 

Sterling is from Henderson, Nevada. At RWU, she worked as a science tutor all four years. 

Every May, as Commencement nears, RWU spotlights members of the graduating class. Suggestions are welcome. Email: stories@rwu.edu.

2022 Graduate Stories