My summer research experience with NOAA Fisheries

Alison Novara learned about experimental design and execution and the breadth of NOAA Fisheries' work during her summer at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Hi everyone! My name is Alison Novara and this year I had the pleasure of becoming a 2022 EPP/MSI undergraduate scholar. This summer, I have not only had the opportunity to participate in the first of two paid research internships at a NOAA facility, but I have also made amazing friends with the other scholars in my cohort. 

My internship at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Milford Laboratory is one of my biggest accomplishments, as it was the first science research I have ever had a hand in. My research focused on the effects of ocean acidification on bay scallops. I found that the scallops will prioritize reproductive growth in ocean acidified conditions, and muscle growth under “normal” ocean conditions. This research not only opens the door for further research on the topic, but it may also impact how aquaculture facilities are run, as well as influence increased fishing policies on the Northeast coast. I am thrilled to currently be working on a manuscript to submit for publication on this research! 

Alison sits at a lab bench, holding a scallop in one gloved hand and examining it with a pair of forceps in the other.  A tray with weighing tins and a laptop with a data sheet open are on the lab bench.
Alison Novara dissecting a bay scallop (Argopecten irradians) during her 2022 EPP/MSI summer internship at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Milford Laboratory. (Courtesy of Alison Novara)

I learned a lot about both scientific research and NOAA Fisheries during my internship. I learned about experimental design and execution and gained experience working with live animals in a research setting. I also loved seeing how many different scientists collaborated on one project, with each persons’ role being vitally important to the experiment. While working alongside my mentors in the Fisheries lab, I found that NOAA Fisheries’ research is broader than I realized. For example, I never knew how much of their research involves understanding and combating climate impacts. The results of the research also help to inform and influence policymakers as they create laws in coastal communities regarding proficient aquaculture and sustainable fishing practices.

From my experiences so far, I have already found my niche in the marine biology community and received professional advice that I never knew I even needed. I am so thankful to my mentors for guiding me and teaching me the ways of government research, and I am so excited to continue on with my journey and see what other impacts I may be able to make!

Headshot of Alison.
Alison Novara, 2022 EPP/MSI scholar

Alison Novara is a marine biology major with minors in marine ecology and public health at Nova Southeastern University.