Carmela Buono (BS '16) UPDATE in September 2017
After Graduating in May 2016 I took a year off to explore opportunities outside of academics before applying for graduate school. Through some suggestions from fellow Rutgers Alumni, I found the AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador Program, applied, and began my term of service in the Fall of 2016. As the Watershed Ambassador of Watershed Management Area 08, the North and South Raritan, I was responsible for conducting educational presentations concerning water conservation, gathering stream assessment data for the state, collaborating with communities to promote environmental stewardship and put together volunteer events. I worked closely with my host agency, the Raritan Headwaters Association, in order to complete all of these tasks. In the end I conducted 121 presentations, completed 35 assessments, trained 285 volunteers, planted over 700 trees along waterways, and was recognized by the Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative with an award in Outstanding Achievement in Stewardship. The whole year was so gratifying and promoting environmental stewardship has become a huge passion in my life.
While I completed my AmeriCorps service, I researched and applied for graduate school. I applied to several schools and was ultimately accepted at SUNY Binghamton and I am now a first year in the Biological Sciences Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Ph.D. program. I will be working in Dr. Kirsten Prior’s lab. The lab studies species interactions and biological invasions and I will be focusing on the impacts of invasive species and climate change on the mutualism between plants and seed dispersing ants, mymecochory. So far everyone in Binghamton has been so welcoming and I am extremely excited to begin my research!