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Cassie Volker

Degrees: B.S. in biology from NKU (‘13), Master of Science at FAU (‘16)

What are you up to now?

I am currently the research assistant with the Wild Dolphin Project. This project was founded by Dr. Denise Herzing, and Dr. Herzing was my advisor for my master's thesis project. During the off season, from September to May, I am working in the office with the data that we have collected. I double check data from the previous summer field season, update the databases that we have, help Dr. Herzing when needed, while also giving public talks about the project.

During the field season, from May-September, I am working in the field. Our field site is in the Bahamas, and we take nine-day trips to the Bahamas to survey the two resident dolphin species that we study: Atlantic spotted dolphins and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. There are 9 trips a season, and this season I am currently on 7 of the 9. My summers are very busy!

How did NKU help you on your journey?

I really like the small classroom atmosphere at NKU, it made it easier to get to know the professors and to get involved in their research. This in turn made it easier to get help if needed, but also to form good professional relationships with them as well. I was able to do undergraduate research with Dr. Lindsey Walters and because of this I found out the path I wanted to take with my biology degree was research. I learned a lot from Dr. Walters and I still ask for her advice! She had a huge positive impact on my journey at NKU and helped shape me into the scientist I am today. At some of the larger universities I believe it is harder to get this type of one-on-one mentoring.

What is some advice you would give to prospective/current students?

In general, work hard and study hard. I know everyone says this, but it's true. For biology majors, find out what path you want to pursue as early as you can- whether it’s teaching, research or something else. Try each one and see what fits for you! This way, you can gear your education towards that path and it will help you figure out what to do next. Also, for biology majors, be very organized, be able to communicate well with a lot of different people and be self-driven!