UT Tyler

Graduate Student Alumni Spotlight

Biology MS

Matthew TroiaStudent Name:  Matthew Troia

Program: Master's in Biology

Graduated: 2010

Employer: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate

What attracted you to this field?

I am fascinated by streams and rivers and the unique and diverse animals that call these habitats home. I have also always enjoyed measuring things and searching for patterns in data. Going to work as an ecologist allows me to put these interests to practice every day.

Why did you choose UT Tyler?

As an aspiring ecologist and native of Wisconsin, I was attracted to the natural beauty of east Texas and its incredible freshwater biodiversity. Moreover, the faculty in the Department of Biology have a strong passion for nature and an expertise in ecology and evolutionary biology.

What do you like most about UT Tyler?

During my two years at UT Tyler I developed strong personal and professional relationships with my faculty mentors. These relationships have been instrumental as I continue to pursue my career. UT Tyler also offers a close-knit community, with strong comradery and respect among undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff within the Department of Biology.

What are your career aspirations?

I aspire for a career in ecological research and biodiversity conservation. My goal is to become a professor at a research-oriented university where I can carry out meaningful conservation-oriented research, mentor graduate students who also aspire to work in the environmental sciences, and teach college students about the societal importance and innate beauty of our natural world.

What is your work experience?

After graduating from UT Tyler with an MS in biology, I attended Kansas State University where I earned a PhD in Biology in 2014. At K-State, my dissertation research focused on understanding habitat use of stream fishes in the Great Plains and developing statistical models to predict the distributions of several species throughout Kansas.

For the past year, I have been working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy Research Lab in Tennessee. At ORNL, I work with a team of scientists in the Environmental Sciences Division where we evaluate the environmental impacts of hydroelectric facilities throughout the United States.

Do you have any advice to pass along to other students interested in this program?

Graduate education is extremely rewarding, but the day-to-day grind of carrying out thesis research can be challenging and tedious. Therefore, I think it is important for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing graduate school to acquire direct research experience by carrying out an undergraduate research project or working as a technician in a faculty research lab. These experiences will also help to clarify your research interests and career aspirations, so you can identify faculty mentors and graduate programs that are right for you.

Find out more about our MS in Biology

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