28 February, 2018
Gadsden State Community College student Serra Martin has earned a prestigious fellowship at Auburn University. She is one of 10 fellows receiving the honor through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.
“There were 99 applicants, and I am humbled and grateful to have been chosen,” she said. “This is a wonderful experience for me as I explore aquaculture and all of the careers and opportunities available.”
All REU fellows are fully supported during the experience, including a $5,500 stipend, travel support to and from Auburn, $500 in research funds and food and lodging in Auburn University dormitories for the entirety of the 10-week program. Martin will participate in the REU program June 3-Aug. 10.
“It is uncommon for a community college student to receive this prestigious fellowship,” said Dr. Hugh Hammer, aquaculture instructor at Gadsden State. “It is usually given to upperclassmen. We are very proud of Serra for earning the fellowship and for committing to improving her future through education and hands-on experiences.”
Martin, 28, will be working on a research project focused on warm water aquatic ecology, such as reservoirs, farm ponds, streams and brackish estuaries. She will be guided by Dr. Alan Wilson, an associate professor at Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences.
“For the fellows, the primary objectives of the project are to be exposed to different scientific hypotheses and research techniques while learning about ecological habitats and conditions,” Martin said. “It is a great honor for me to be studying with some of the best aquatic scholars in our region.”
The Talladega County native wasn’t always interested in aquaculture. In fact, after graduating from Winterboro High School, she did not have career plans for the future.
“I had no idea what to do,” she said. “I just kept flipping through Gadsden State’s catalog reviewing all of the different programs. I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do.”
After a brief stint doing college coursework, Martin got a full-time job.
“I did not like my job,” she said. “I made up my mind then that I didn’t care about how much money I make as long as I’m not doing a job that I hate.”
Again, Martin picked up the Gadsden State catalog and flipped through the pages. She kept coming back to aquaculture and researched it online. A Youtube video about the program peaked her interest even further.
“I was very worried that I wouldn’t be smart enough to succeed in the program,” she said. “Some of the students in Gadsden State’s aquaculture program already have bachelor’s degrees. I wasn’t sure I could keep up.”
She proved herself wrong by maintaining an A-average in her core classes. She will receive an Associate in Science from Gadsden State this summer. She is considering continuing her education at Auburn University in the fall.
“I have fallen in love with aquaculture,” she said. “To me, it’s just so much fun. It’s interesting because there’s so much involved with it. It’s hard work but it’s interesting and fun, too.”
For more information about Gadsden State’s aquaculture program, call 256-549-8345.