PSM students win first and second place at national 3MP competition

Molly Selleck, Jennie Willis, and Nathan Edwards after being awarded 1st & 2nd place.

“The need for students who can communicate science well to the general public is increasing,” according to Jennie Willis, the director of CSU’s Professional Science Master’s program in zoo, aquarium, and animal shelter management. Placing first and second in the 3MP competition at the 2019 National Professional Science Master’s Association’s (NPSMA) conference, PSM students Nathan Edwards and Molly Selleck demonstrated their ability to do just that, interpreting their research to a general public audience in just 3 minutes.

Edwards’s research focused on evaluating food waste at Busch Gardens, in Tampa, Florida, and finding methods of reducing food waste within the aviaries. Edwards enjoyed presenting to the audience at 3MP, “Being able to share a different side to science that isn’t normally represented is something that I love to do. Trust yourself and the knowledge you have on your research. Sell yourself during your presentation and knowledge transfer will follow”. 

Selleck, a Wildlife Biology alumna, presented her research evaluating ZooMonitor, new technology in animal welfare evaluation used at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver. Her project focused on transitioning the behavioral monitoring processes from paper and pen to a digital method using iPads, saving staff time by cutting down data entry procedures and opening up the data analysis options to illustrate their behavior data.

PSM Program director Jennie Willis accompanied the students to the competition, saying of Edwards’ and Selleck’s presentations “Both students got the audience engaged in shouting out numbers, thinking about throwing away their wallets and guessing what animals in pictures were doing. Our students’ presentations are consistently chosen to present at the national level. Students from our program have placed in the top three at NPSMA for the past three years”. Willis is understandably proud of the PSM program which has a nearly 100% graduation rate and a 100% job placement rate within three months of graduation. 

Of their post-graduation plans, Edwards said he hopes to have a career in animal care or education within a zoo or aquarium. Selleck has focused on behavior and enrichment in zoological institutions and has developed an interest in education and interpretation. She advises prospective students, “The field is competitive and filled with committed and passionate people. If it’s what you want to do, stick with it no matter how tough it can be. Taking advantage of the opportunities that the PSM program has given me, such as NPSMA, is the best advice I can give others. CSU offers a really unique management program that not only stands out on a resume but provides you with professional development and networking opportunities”.

The Professional Science Master’s program in zoo, aquarium, and animal shelter management is in the Department of Biology in the College of Natural Science