“Stony Brook University was always on my mind because of the research opportunities,” said Claire Garfield, a junior in the Honors College who is getting a jumpstart on her plans to pursue a PhD in biological oceanography with the aid of a competitive award she has won, a DAAD-Rise Fellowship.
Majoring in biology with minors in chemistry, French and marine sciences, Claire will be doing research in Germany this summer through the program. The fellowship offers unique opportunities for bachelor degree students to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a duration of three months.
“I don’t know a better student to represent SBU around the world because Claire is among our best and brightest, and this is another step on her road to doing great things,” said Jackie L. Collier, associate professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and mentor to Claire.
During her years in high school, Claire participated in research at SUNY Oneonta, studying algal communities and nutrient pollution. After arriving at Stony Brook University in 2016, she immediately became involved in a SoMAS research project that examined the effects of marine reserves on predatory fish.
In the summer before her junior year, Claire participated in an REU program at Georgia Tech working on an aquatic chemical ecology project involving the examination of genome sequences of the microbes found in different bloom states. During this experience, Claire learned about the fellowship through her REU mentor, Dr. Nastassia Patin, who had won this award when she was an undergraduate student. “I was very hopeful when applying for the fellowship, even though there were around 1900 applicants and only 300 spots,” Claire said.
While attending Stony Brook University, Claire has studied abroad in Rome and Ireland and is planning to study in Japan this upcoming winter. She believes that studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn and experience the world around her.
“Each and every time has been an incredibly formative experience and they give me the energy to keep working hard because I want to have a life where adventure is a regular thing for me,” she said.
“These are things that I’ve worked very hard on and I am just beginning to see the fruits of my labor. I am most productive when I am happy and confident, so I try to do things that are meaningful to me,” she said.
When she’s not committing herself to her studies, she dedicates her time to working as a copy editor for SB Young Investigator’s Review and spending time in the Ashley Schiff Nature Preserve. “Ashley Schiff is my happy place on campus and a place where I can get some outdoor time,” said Claire. In the past, she has served as a teaching assistant for General Chemistry and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 2018.
Steven R. Beaupré, an assistant professor at SoMAS who wrote a recommendation letter for Claire, called her “our most promising ambassador, who will surely benefit from, and contribute to, the internationally-recognized DAAD-RISE program in Konstanz this summer.”
According to Claire, her love of the ocean is owed to her parents and her oldest family friend. “We would go down to Ocean Grove, NJ for vacation every year. My parents casually mentioned that maybe I would be an oceanographer and I really took that to heart,” she said.
Claire values Stony Brook University because of how it has opened doors for her to do research and study abroad.
“Going to Stony Brook University is honestly the reason that I can do this fellowship,” she said.“The opportunity to live abroad for a short period will be a good learning and growing experience for me.”
“Even among the many amazing students I work with, Claire is a singular talent in both science and the humanities,” said Jen Green, Stony Brook’s external fellowships adviser. “She is also unfailingly altruistic in using science for the greater good, whether by mentoring peers or taking it to the general public through the science communication skills she is developing.”
— Maya Brown