June Shrestha

June Shrestha

MLML Drop-In Blog Student Profile

Name:  June Shrestha

Lab webpage:


Hometown: Vienna, VA

Undergrad: B.S. Biology, Virginia Tech, 2013


Work experience before MLML: 

  • (2014 – 2015) Research Assistant at the University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • (2014) Sea turtle volunteer with Tree Foundation India
  • (2013) Fisheries Research Technician at Virginia Tech (Frimpong Lab)
  • (2010) National Aquarium husbandry summer intern


Q: Why did you decide to pursue marine science?

Because marine science is the coolest! Ecology has always been my favorite subject, and I wanted to learn to apply these principles to one of the most sensitive environments on Earth.

“From the deepest depths to the mysteries held within –
it’s undeniable our oceans are a wonder to behold.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

–E.E. Cummings

Q: What experiences and opportunities have shaped your path to get you where you are now?

The NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) was the most influential experience on my decision to pursue research and graduate school. I learned about the research process as I lived and worked among other graduate students at a secluded research station – the “summer camp for scientists” as we called it.

And a semester studying marine sciences in the Galápagos Islands sealed the deal!

Q: What are you studying and why is it interesting and important to you?

I’m in the Ichthyology (fish) Lab. For my thesis, I will be looking at fish poop! Specifically, nutrient cycling and community-level excretion estimates for kelp forests fishes. I’m interested in understanding the “bigger picture” of ecosystem dynamics and hope to scale up my thesis across different regions in California.

Q: What are you hoping or planning to do when you finish?

I’d like to work in the field for at least a few years before potentially pursuing a PhD. Ideally, I would work in an area of applied science that will enable me to make a more visible difference on ecosystem health in traditionally underserved and marginalized communities. Basically, help coastal communities protect their ocean resources.

And travel!

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get in to marine science?

You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again: Volunteer! Get creative! Take the initiative to create your own volunteer opportunities!

What I mean is this: don’t limit yourself to volunteer programs/internships that already exist. Many of those are very competitive and may not be the best fit anyway. Instead, try to determine what volunteer positions you can create that simultaneously interests you while filling a need for a group or organization.

Some ideas: Work in a lab conducting research that you think sounds cool. Grad students always need help, and there are frequently opportunities to develop a mini independent research project of your own. Volunteer with a NGO that may need a social media or website moderator. Take an afternoon to talk to kids about the ocean, or organize a beach clean-up.

Other recommendations for prospective marine scientists:

  • Attend a school on the coast. The opportunities for volunteer/research opportunities will be greater. You don’t have to major in marine science, but just being exposed to research labs or marine organizations will help. Since I attended a landlocked undergraduate university, I found it difficult to get marine-related summer internships because I wasn’t volunteering in those positions during the school year. I loved what I did and I still ended up in a marine science grad school, but I took a bit of a round-about way to get here.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact people with cool jobs and research projects that you admire! Contact professors, PIs, working professionals, and especially graduate students for advice. They may even know of potential volunteer opportunities.

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