Samantha Godwin

Samantha Godwin

What is your previous work experience?
In summer 2014, I participated in an internship with the US Forest Service at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, where I assisted with wildlife and silviculture field research projects. Last summer (2015), I completed a natural resource management internship with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve, in which I assisted with the management of three coastal nature reserves in North Carolina. I was involved in various monitoring and stewardship activities and participated in water quality monitoring, invasive species control, and several other research endeavors.

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of attending Duke University. When I first became aware of the MEM-CEM program two years ago, I toured the Duke Marine Lab and was very impressed. I believe that this graduate program’s interdisciplinary approach will allow me to gain expertise about coastal processes and the technical background in coastal policy necessary for a career in coastal management. Lastly, I was truly honored to have been offered the Orrin Pilkey Fellowship, which will provide me with a substantial amount of financial assistance.


Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?
I would like to concentrate in the area of coastal resource management, specifically targeting issues concerning sea level rise, water pollution, eutrophication, marine debris, and other anthropogenic impacts on coastal and estuarine ecosystems. I am also considering the possibility of pursuing the Community-based Environmental Management Certificate Program.

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?
I’m really looking forward to becoming a part of the Duke community, becoming involved in student groups and gaining more hands-on exposure in this field. I’m also very excited for the opportunity to study at both the Nicholas School in Durham and at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort.

What are you doing this summer before you arrive at the Nicholas School?
I am working part-time for the Museum of Life and Science as a guest relations associate, and am enjoying my time with my 3- year-old son before we both return to school in August. We love to explore the area, and often visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke Forest, Eno River, Umstead State Park, Falls Lake, and other beautiful places in the triangle.

What are your plans for future work of employment?
Ultimately, I anticipate a career in natural resource management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems. After graduate school, I hope to find a position in this field.

Career Interests

Water quality & pollution, marine debris cleanup & prevention, habitat restoration, and shoreline erosion

Employment Sought:


Master of Environmental Management, May 2018
Nicholas School of the Environment
Duke University, Durham, NC
Concentration: Coastal Environmental Management (CEM)
Relevant coursework: Ocean/Coastal Law & Policy, Geospatial Analysis for Coastal/Marine Management, Aquatic & Wetland Field Skills, Hydrologic Data Analysis, Water Quality Health, Beach/Island Geological Processes, Resource & Environmental Economics
Honors: Nicholas Scholar, Orrin Pilkey Fellow: selected as only CEM student for prestigious merit award
Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, December 2015
Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, NC
Major: Biology with concentration in Ecology & Field Biology
Senior thesis: Use of algae in bioremediation of aquatic heavy metal pollution
Relevant coursework: Population & Community Ecology, Biology of Vascular Plants, Vertebrate Taxonomy & Natural History, GIS, Organic Chemistry, Biological Research Methods
Honors: Outstanding Biology Graduate Award, Alpha Chi and Beta Beta Beta National Honors Societies

Professional Experience

Natural Resource Management Intern, North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve Northern Sites Office, NC Division of Coastal Management, Kitty Hawk
Field Research/Data Analysis: Initiated project to monitor Currituck Sound water quality weekly, collected and filtered monthly water samples for phytoplankton and nutrient analysis, and analyzed historic water quality data. Mapped field data and inventoried species on Reserve sites, including monitoring of invasive swine with wildlife cameras. Surveyed last remaining longleaf pine stand in the area and installed transects for marsh erosion monitoring project.
Stewardship: Constructed and maintained Currituck Banks rain garden and installed interpretive signs and trail markers for Kitty Hawk Woods paddle trail. Involved in debris cleanup for improved public usage of Reserves.
Outreach/education: Designed educational material about the Reserve’s mission and current initiatives for visitors and tour guides, including Reserve site descriptions and interpretive signs for the Currituck Banks rain garden and flowering plant species. Regularly interacted with visitors at each of the three Reserve sites to answer inquiries and discuss the Reserve system’s mission and initiatives. Summer 2015
Wildlife/Silviculture Field Research Intern, USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, Upland Hardwood Ecology & Management Unit, Bent Creek Experimental Forest, Asheville, NC
Assisted with a master’s project assessing impacts of various forest treatment techniques on reptiles and amphibians, acquiring a variety of field skills and data collection methods related to capturing, handling/identifying herpetofauna, and habitat assessment/identification. Assisted with identification of canopy and sub-canopy tree species and vegetation growth/regeneration measurements for a research project assessing efficacy of different silvicultural methods. Summer 2014
GIS Project Volunteer, USFS Upland Hardwood Ecology & Management Unit, Bent Creek Experimental Forest
Comparison of 3 vegetation classification models in the Black Mountain Research Natural Area, NC. 2014

Additional Information

Research: Demonstrated ability to work independently and apply established research methods to solve ongoing management issues. Aquatic and terrestrial habitats, use of Trimble unit, water sample collection/filtration, use of YSI Sonde, ICP chemical analysis, chemical laboratory research, Southeastern plant and vertebrate species identification

Communication/outreach: Scientific writing, translation of technical writing for general public, public engagement

Software: Microsoft Office Suite, ArcGIS, ArcPad, some R exposure


Award ● Orrin Pilkey Fellowship

Hometown ● Duck, North Carolina

Undergraduate Institute ● Mars Hill University



Graduation Date

May 2018

Additional Resources

Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Non-profit / NGO
Research Institute / Think Tank
State / Local Government