by Laura Nelson, Director of Enrollment Marketing
Sul Ross State University student Danielle Arias is planning a summer of adventure and learning after earning one of only 10 spots in the prestigious Univ. of Delaware Marine Sciences Summer Intern Program.
Her path to this opportunity started when Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Kevin Young suggested Danielle research internship opportunities on the National Science Foundation website. She applied to several and was invited to attend two. She chose the one in Delaware because she will be working one-on-one with her mentor, Dr. Aaron Carlisle, along with a graduate student. Carlisle studies sharks, particularly how they use their bodies to move the water in the Delaware Bay.
The internship lasts 10 weeks and provides travel, meals, and lodging as well as a stipend. Danielle eagerly looks forward to learning from experts and the opportunity to network plus sharpen practical, professional skills by writing and presenting scientific information.
Danielle’s interest in marine biology started at an early age while visiting family in California. The Del Rio native explored the beach and an aquarium. Captivated by what she experienced, she read everything she could find about the field. When her sister planned a trip to Georgia, the young scholar showed no interest in going until she researched the Georgia Aquarium, one of the biggest aquariums in the world that is home to species not found anywhere else. Although the trip was never taken,
Danielle said her fantasy job would be the head of the research and conservation department there.
However, she makes practical decisions based on how she can further her career. While she is fascinated by octopus, she will research what funding is available and discover the best track for her. She would also like to study how organisms adapt in the deep sea where sunlight does not penetrate.
Her keen mind and passion for biology led her to volunteer at Laughlin Air Force Base, working with Danny Yandell, 47th CES environmental resources manager at the Base, and graduate students from Texas A&M. At the beginning of this year, the group performed a biological survey along the runways, identifying insects, small mammals, and vegetation that live there to help determine what attracts birds which are dangerous creatures to have close to flight paths. She plans to volunteer again for the spring survey.
Parents Virginia Rangel and Ricardo Arias advised her to start at Southwest Texas Junior College and she decided to earn her bachelor’s at Sul Ross because it offered the biology program, was affordable, and allowed her to continue living at home. She said, “I’m very grateful to Dr. Young and Dr. Foley. They are experts in their fields, and they truly care about their students and want to see them succeed.”
In addition to teaching biology, Professor Foley also serves as the Department Chair of the Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Sul Ross. Her future plans include graduate school at either Texas A&M or Texas State, and after gaining some experience and insight, she would like to pursue a Ph.D.
While her parents are happy and proud she has earned the internship, they are understandably anxious about their daughter moving so far away for an entire summer, but it appears her scholarly career has prepared her well for this exclusive opportunity.