Adding an Earth and Ocean Sciences Major Allows Senior Carmen Hoyt to Dive Deeper

February 23, 2018

Tim Lucas, (919) 613-8084,

Carmen Hoyt on a summer diving trip in the Bahamas (Credit: Carmen Hoyt

By Parker Brown, Communications Specialist

DURHAM, N.C.-- Carmen Hoyt, a senior Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOS) double major, has made the most of her Duke experience.

The Rachel Carson scholar and co-president of the Duke Sustainable Oceans Alliance chapter has extensive undergraduate research experience, including studying shark biodiversity off North Carolina’s coast. Hoyt has also spent a term at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort. She is a passionate advocate for why understanding the physical processes studied through EOS courses are vital to understanding ecosystems and our planet.

Last year, Hoyt won a national contest to be the first Xploration Awesome Planet #StudentExplorer. She had a chance to swim with whale sharks alongside noted conservationist Philippe Cousteau on an episode of the TV show that aired last fall.

Duke Environment corresponded with Hoyt recently to talk about the value of being an EOS and Biology double major, her time at the Marine Lab, dreams for the future and just for fun, the best places to eat in Durham and Beaufort.

Why did you feel it was important to double major, specifically adding Earth and Ocean Sciences? What advice would you have for students who are considering EOS?

As an aspiring ecologist, I thought it was important to investigate the mechanisms guiding the physical environment before I could understand how it influences the organisms that live in a particular place. The Earth and Ocean Sciences degree allows me to learn the sciences behind these mechanisms while also encouraging me to explore within the discipline, touching on topics such as climate, planetary science and hydrology.

I would encourage students considering EOS to take classes outside of their comfort zone! Even though I gravitated towards oceanography courses, some of my favorite ones ended up being about paleontology or atmospheric sciences.
What was your favorite thing about studying at the Marine Lab, from both an academic and cultural/social perspective? Why?
My favorite part about studying at the Marine Lab is definitely the community of students, staff and faculty. Professors are always willing to collaborate with students on research, and staff members get to know you by name. No matter what you are interested in studying, everyone is excited to support you in pursuing your dreams.

Also, life on an island isn’t so bad! Nowhere else at Duke can you go watch dolphins in between classes or play volleyball next to the ocean.

How has studying EOS helped advance your understanding of the marine environment? How do you think it will benefit you moving forward?

My EOS courses have shown me that the marine environment is extremely complex and dynamic. I have learned how ocean currents distribute heat, how nutrient availability influences overall ecosystem productivity and how these parameters can change with changing climate. EOS courses cover everything dating from the formation of the Earth to predicting future trends.
This is extremely beneficial for me because I am able to think about how the environment can change and then how these changes could influence the habitat patterns of and interactions between organisms that live in the marine environment.
You have described yourself as a full-time dreamer always thinking about your next big adventure. What is your next big adventure, and what do you dream about for your future career?

Right now, my next big adventure is actually an EOS capstone trip to Ireland! Over spring break, I will be joining other EOS seniors for a week traveling the coastline of Ireland and looking at the unique geologic features of the island.

After graduation I have plans to spend some time in Southeast Asia. I am an avid SCUBA diver, so I am in search of some pristine reefs! My long-term goal is to attend graduate school to study tropical ecology, but I am looking to gain experience in the field and narrow down my interests before starting a program.
What has been your favorite Earth & Ocean Sciences class at Duke and why?

EOS 204: Evolving Earth and Life was one of my favorite classes at Duke! It was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I quickly found myself very interested in fossils and completely amazed by the diversity of creatures that lived in the ocean over the lifespan of our planet. I was challenged to look at topics I otherwise wouldn’t have given any thought, such as assessing the relationship between religion and science. It was also taught by one of my favorite professors, Alex Glass!
Favorite place to eat in Durham and/or Beaufort, and what's your go-to order?

My favorite place to eat in Durham is the Parlour ice cream shop! I can’t be downtown without stopping in for a scoop of their salted caramel butter ice cream.

In Beaufort, my top choice is Dank Burrito for sure. Best place to get some fish tacos!