PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(May 22, 2024) —“I’m on a boat off Deal Island evaluating a site for my master’s degree research,” Glen Collins Jr. warned of spotty cellphone reception. The day in late May was the first 80-degree day that month. Less than a week prior, he walked across the stage to accept a hard-earned bachelor’s degree in environmental science during the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s 137th Spring Commencement on May 17.

Collins is returning as a fellow of the NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center at UMES for an advanced degree in marine-estuarine environmental sciences. The Salisbury resident’s research project will focus on oyster reef habitats and how fish utilize them. He will use acoustic telemetry to track federally managed fish species in different habitats in the Chesapeake Bay.

Choosing his field of interest was easy, Collins said.
“I grew up going out fishing with my dad and love being out on the water.”

Originally from Queens, New York, the rural Princess Anne campus was a good fit with the opportunity for one-on-one contact with faculty.

“They were always available, especially my internship mentors,” Collins said. “Being able to talk to them created a more supportive environment for me personally.”

Through connections made as an undergraduate participant in NOAA LMRCSC, Collins landed research internships at Woods Hole, Massachusetts; Savannah State University’s Bridge to Research in Marine Science program; and the Great Lakes Fisheries Science Training Workshop at Ohio State University. He sharpened his professional acumen by presenting his research at conferences at the conclusion of projects.

Collins was among the first group of graduates of the UMES Land-grant Scholarship who entered the program as freshmen. This provided him with financial support and experiential learning opportunities.

“When I accepted my degree, it was knowing that I would be debt-free,” the newly minted graduate said.

Collins’ final project in an upper-level environmental science class involved hands-on work identifying tree species on campus and measuring them as part of the university’s Tree Campus USA designation. His activities, and that of peers, also contribute to vital research being done at UMES to address climate change, ghost forests and saltwater intrusion on forests and fields on the Eastern Shore.

His interest in the environment led him to be a founding member of the university’s Environmental Science Association. Collins and fellow students were involved in an Earth Day celebration, which included planting a seedling from the historic Wye Oak on campus.

His advice to those who come after him: “Find a work-life balance. Enjoy the process of the things you’re involved in. It’s easy to work too hard.”

The aspiring marine scientist is planning on a career potentially with a federal agency like NOAA Fisheries. His passion, he said, is for fish. He aims to work in aquaculture, improving fish populations, or restoring habitats.

“As long as I’m doing something with marine science, I’ll be happy!”

Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, UMES Extension, 410-621-3850,

Photos by Todd Dudek, ag communications photographer, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, UMES Extension,

Glen Collins Jr. of Salisbury was among the 235 graduates of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore 137th Spring Commencement held May 17.

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