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microscope mysid 

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What is the Scientist in Residence program? 

The Scientist in Residence Program (SiR) at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is a partnership between UTMSI scientists and the Port Aransas Independent School District (PAISD).  The goals of this program are to:

  • increase enthusiasm for science learning among K-12 students
  • enhance scientific communication and teaching skills in participating graduate fellows
  • increase environmental outreach/education in the community 


How does it work?

Each year, 1-2 UTMSI graduate students are selected to serve as Scientist in Residence. The fellow's job is to work with teachers (4th/5th and/or 8th grade) and fellow scientists to develop activities that enhance student learning and love for science. Although collaboration is a key part of the process, fellows work in the same classrooms year-round, allowing them to develop a relationship with every student and create a truly unique learning opportunity. 



Examples of what we do...

  • elementary school science fair
  • mock-conference poster sessions 
  • regular environmental surveys & sampling
  • data analysis and presentation
  • scientific method practice & development
  • peer evaluation of scientific work
  • maintaining a scientific notebook
  • Field excursions to local habitats (e.g. marshes, mangrove forests, rivers, beaches, water treatment centers, forestry areas)
  • evaluating sources of marine pollution
  • question & answer sessions with scientists/environmentalists
  • water quality monitoring
  • parent & student science nights
  • field instrument techniques (e.g. YSI SONDE, refractometer, Van Dorn water sampler, wind meter, nutrient test kits, secchi disk, etc.)
  • original, hands-on activities in alignment with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) criteria

Graduate Fellow Profiles


Former Scientist in Residence Fellows

  • 2021 - 2021  Briana Martinez, M.S. Student
  • 2020-2021 Kyle Capistrant-Fossa, Ph.D. Student /  Victoria Congdon, Ph.D. Student / Berit Batterton M.S. Student
  • 2019-2020 Emily Bristol, M.S. Student / Sarah Douglas, Ph.D. Student / Leighann Martin, M.S. Student
  • 2018-2019 Angelina Dicheira, Ph.D. student / Leighann Martin, M.S. Student
  • 2011-2012 Aubrey Lashaway, M.S.
  • 2012-2013 Catalina Cuellar Gempler, Ph.D.
  • 2013-2014 Gene Oh, M.S / Stephanie Smith, M.S.
  • 2014-2015 Carrie Harris, M.S. / Meredith Evans, M.S.
  • 2015-2016 Craig Connolly, Ph.D. student
  • 2016-2017 Meaghan Cuddy, M.S. student / Angelina Dicheira, M.S. student 


Scientist in Residence Events


Science Fair - 4th/5th Grade

The Science Fair is held annually in the fall. Fourth and 5th-grade students at Olsen Elementary School spend the first two months of the school year learning how to design and conduct an experiment and communicate their results using visual and oral presentations. Each student designs his or her own experiment and poster board to display to our panel of judges and their family and friends. Student projects typically cover a wide range of topics, from chemistry to biology to engineering! FairPic2

Check out the Science Fair articles:





2017 (Cancelled, Hurricane Harvey)






Research Symposium - 8th Grade

Held annually in Spring

The 8th grade Poster Session is the culmination of a year's work for 8th-grade students in Port Aransas ISD. This Poster session is inspired by scientific conference poster session, where students will executed and presented a scientific poster to faculty and students at UTMSI.

birdingcentervandorn  beachsonde

Over the course of the academic year, students completed environmental monitoring surveys. These surveys cover 3 locations: the Port Aransas ship channel, beach, and birding center. Students used technical instrumentation to collect data on parameters including salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrate concentration, phosphate concentration, and much more. Working with graduate fellows, students developed a scientific question relating to this data and completed data analysis to make scientific conclusions about their local environment.

At the session, students were judged by scientists in the UTMSI community to determine awards for best data analysis, most creative project, and overall winner. Students enjoyed competing with each other, developing scientific posters, and most of all, talking to the scientists of UTMSI about their research.


Previous Events

Arctic Science Night
Held based on interest

Arctic Science Night is an opportunity for scientists from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute to inspire curiosity and expand knowledge about marine science topics. To achieve this, graduate students, faculty and staff created activities and display tables for elementary school students and parents to learn about different aspects of marine science and conservation. Some activities included 'trawling for flat fish', 'marine debris: man made or natural?', measuring fish respiration and building phytoplankton.  

respiromfish   fishtrawlliu

delaneydebris    4thphyto

Activities covered a wide variety of marine topics, but a main focus of the evening was Arctic Ocean science. The Arctic Ocean is the main field of study for several scientists at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, but not many people in Port Aransas have the opportunity to learn about it. Students were able to try on suits worn by UTMSI in the arctic, as well as see some samples of wildlife from the area. Overall, the event was interesting and fun for parents and students alike! 

arcticchristina   oversizedken


Check out the Arctic Night articles: