It's hard to imagine how a student from a landlocked state could develop a passion for the ocean. But that's exactly what Molly Fisher ’20 did. The Simpson College graduate became interested in coral reef conservation on a May Term trip to the Cayman Islands. Simpson's 2019 Homecoming Queen is continuing her education at Kansas State University, where she will research coral reef genomics and nutrient cycling.
Hometown: Nashua, Iowa
Major: Environmental Science
Involvement at Simpson: Campus Activities Board (served as president and traditions director), Student Government Association (served as a class senator and senior class president), Sustainability Club (served as vice president), Carver Bridge to STEM Success Fellow, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society (served as president), Beta Beta Beta Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society
Exploreships at Simpson: Simpson College Ecological Research, Kansas State University Research Experience for Undergraduates, Kansas State University Field Technician
Graduate Program: Biology at Kansas State University
You're attending Kansas State University to pursue a master's degree in biology in fall 2020. What comes after that?
My thesis research will focus on coral reef genomics and nutrient cycling in Taiwan. This summer I am working with the Environmental Institute of Houston as a field technician. We are conducting coastal research across Texas and Louisiana for the EPA's (Environmental Protection Agency) National Coastal Conditions Assessment.
What attracted you to this particular program?
Furthering my education and researching coral reefs through Kansas State University is a remarkable opportunity. Coral reefs are a keystone species and are exceedingly threatened by climate change. To most individuals, these organisms may appear 'rock-like' and are often overlooked. These great reefs are, in fact, living. Some can even be seen from space. They are absolutely extraordinary organisms that are in desperate need of conservation and preservation to avoid total decimation. Having a small part in the research to help save coral reefs and inform others about their importance is why I chose this opportunity. As a first-generation college student, education has always been particularly important for me. Having the opportunity to fund my education is such a privilege; one I am very grateful for.
You grew up thousands of miles from the ocean. How did you become so passionate about coral reef conservation?
I took a trip to Little Cayman Island as part of my marine biology May Term class in 2018. That trip grew my fascination with marine ecosystems into a great passion, especially for coral reefs. It might seem a little unconventional that a person who has lived in a landlocked state would pursue opportunities in the marine world, but living a great distance from any marine environment has made my fascination even stronger. That May Term alongside other numerous ecological research opportunities helped me find what I love to do.
What kind of support did you receive from faculty at Simpson College?
I would have to say that Dr. Clint Meyer (associate professor of biology and environmental science) and Dr. Ryan Rehmeier (professor of biology) supported me the most in my professional pursuits. They challenged me academically in the classroom and encouraged me to find opportunities outside of the classroom to assist me in my next step after my undergraduate education. As a first-generation college student, I really had no idea what I was doing. Professors Meyer and Rehmeier always had an open door and went above and beyond for me. The sheer number of letters of recommendation that they wrote for me is beyond comprehension. They made my time at Simpson not only challenging but successful. I could not be more thankful for them as they mentored me these past few years.
What will you miss most from your time at Simpson?
I will certainly miss my friends, professors and advisors the most. These individuals not only guided me through college, but became my second family. The past few years have been so memorable and joyous because of these people. I cannot thank them enough for that.