Intern Showcase: Emma Abbott Gained a Mentor, Invaluable Experience, and Inspiration

Emma Abbott

Where Are They Now? A New Series to Profile Our Former Interns!

For over 20 years, we have been proud to educate and inspire over 75 college students within our summer internship program, fostering future scientists and stewards of the environment. 

Participants work on a variety of projects, from coastal bacteria sampling and microplastics analysis, to PFAS testing, organizing educational experiences, assisting with marine mammal strandings and more. It’s not only an invaluable experience for them, but also for our staff.

As such, we are excited to launch a new Q&A series that will showcase past interns, providing insight into their experience with us and how it has and/or still is – shaping their future paths. 

We are delighted to launch the series with Emma Abbott, an undergraduate student from Colby College that is pursuing a double major in Environmental Science and French Studies, with a minor in Classic Civilizations. She was part of our intern program in 2022, and was gracious enough to participate in our Q&A format: 

When did you intern at the Shaw Institute?
I was one of two interns from Colby College during the summer of 2022. My partner was Sam Miller and we were supervised by Dr. Charlie Rolsky, the Institute’s senior research scientist, who has since also become its executive director.

What attracted you to the Shaw Institute and why choose to intern here?

The thing that drew me the most to the Shaw Institute was your main focus on marine ecology in the Gulf of Maine. I knew that the internship was going to give me great exposure to field and lab work that I never had before, as well as getting to work with a senior scientist. 

What did you do during your internship? What were your responsibilities?
I learned to identify harmful algal blooms around the Blue Hill Peninsula. I was also trained in marine mammal strandings, water quality testing, and was taught how to write literature reviews. I was also able to participate in community outreach programs and, with the other interns, worked on a project to mitigate the effects of green crabs on Maine’s fishing industry. At the end of the summer, we presented on our project and the results achieved.

What do you currently do; where are you now?
I am currently a senior at Colby College. Last summer I was a research assistant to Dr. Allison Barner, who is an assistant professor of biology at Colby. Our focus was on the intertidal zone in the Gulf of Maine.

How did your internship at the Shaw Institute help you?
Because I trust in knowing what I want to do after I graduate, I went through a lot of internship rejections to find the right one. My internship at the Shaw Institute helped me get my current position because it gave me lab and field work experience, particularly within the intertidal zone. It also helped me gain a mentor in Dr. Rolsky, who gave me advice on how to pursue my academic goals in life.

What skills did you learn in your internship?
I learned what it’s like to be on a team and work closely with people in the field and in the lab. I gained a lot of field experience, as well as community engagement skills that have helped me be more communicative and confident while interacting with peers and coworkers.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I will hopefully be doing marine mammal research at an aquarium where I can engage with the community and help provide fun, interactive activities based on marine ecosystems. I hope to have finished grad school with either a master’s or a Ph.D. and continue to learn more and work in marine environments and with animals that depend on it. 

We hope you enjoyed this inaugural installment of an ongoing blog series to showcase our past interns. To learn more about our intern program, including how to apply, please click HERE. If you are interested in donating specifically to support this important program, please contact us at