Kristen Lycett, Ph.D. candidate in the Marine Estuarine Environmental Science Graduate Program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, earned the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) scholarship Lighting the Pathway to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM

The AISES scholarship program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and aims to increase the representation of Native Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty positions at universities and tribal colleges across the country. 

Lycett is a 2009 graduate of Oregon State University (OSU), where she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science with a specialization in Aquatic Biology and was president of OSU’s student chapter of AISES. She is an enrolled tribal member of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, one of nine federally recognized tribes in the state of Oregon and one of first to sign a Treaty with the United States of America in 1853.

Before coming to UMES, Lycett worked for the Living Classrooms Foundation in Baltimore where she taught students about the Chesapeake Bay and sailing.

“Research has always been what I wanted to do, but my work in Baltimore got me interested in teaching,” Lycett said. “Earning a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in academics combines all of my interests.”

During her undergraduate degree, Lycett’s research interests focused on biodiversity. Now her area of specialization is in ecology and her work in biodiversity is continuing through her Ph.D. project and her work in the Maryland Coastal Bays. Lycett is currently working on the blue crab parasite known as Hematodinium. Her Ph.D. research supported through the NSF Center of Research Excellence – Center for the Integrated Study of Coastal Ecosystem Processes and Dynamics (CREST-CISCEP) at UMES involves a five-year study, investigating the parasite in the environment and within the blue crab population with the goal of enhancing our understanding of the life cycle of the parasite. She is working collaboratively with the National Park Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Pitula, Associate Professor and NOAA LMRCSC faculty in the Department of Natural Sciences. She expects to complete her Ph.D. degree in 2016.

Lycett expressed how grateful she has been to have access to the UMES Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center in her work.

“We’ve been able to keep live crabs in aquaculture there,” she said. “It’s been greatly beneficial to the project.”

The AISES program strives to provide “full circle mentorship” and to establish an inter-generational community of scholars that will help guide students through degree completion and into the next stages of an academic career path.

Lycett will earn a stipend of $2,250 for two years, access to a AISES mentor and access to professional development resources. She’ll attend the AISES National Conference for the first time since she’s been a member.

She’s most looking forward to finding a mentor from AISES in this region and reconnecting with her Native American roots from across the country. 

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