My name is Hossein Zolfaghari and I studied marine biology at Rutgers University, graduating inMay 2022. My experiences with my professors and fellow classmates in the Department ofMarine and Coastal Sciences were easily the most exciting and fulfilling opportunities I hadduring my undergraduate education. Our classes focused on the fundamentals of oceanographywith specific emphasis on why/how these concepts apply to our current environment and keygoals in the scientific community. This both made classes more interesting and prepared myclassmates and I to apply the concepts we learned to tangible scientific problems in the future.

Many classes were designed to get students out in the field to learn science by doing science.These hands-on opportunities started my freshman year when I got my SCUBA certification atthe Werblin pool through a marine science elective course. Later when I studied abroad inValencia, Spain during my sophomore year, I used my data analysis experiences from my classesto secure a research position at the University of Valencia. My favorite courses came during mysenior year when I took Ichthyology with Professor Grothues and Oceanographic Methods andData Analysis (OMDA) with Professor Sherrell and Professor Saba. Ichthyology was a weeklycourse that met at the research station in Tuckerton, NJ. Every week was a different adventure aswe waded through salt marshes collecting local fish species, learned various trawl techniques inTuckerton Bay, and learned about the key bodily structures of fishes in anatomy lab. In OMDA,we boarded the Rutgers research vessel and learned to use complex scientific instruments tocollect biological and chemical data of various bodies of water. We cruised through the RaritanRiver all the way to the Verrazano Bridge in NYC, collecting samples and data we would use forthe rest of the semester to analyze key oceanographic concepts in our local waterways. Science isnever perfect and my classmates and I learned as we faced setbacks like inclement weather,equipment malfunctions, and other unexpected obstacles. Our professors used each setback as alearning opportunity with which we improved as scientists and grew closer as a scientific team.

My curiosity in both marine science and humans led me to major in marine biology whilecompleting the pre-medical track, hoping to work as an expedition physician in the future. Withthe strong scientific background and unique opportunities that I gained through my marinescience curriculum at Rutgers University, I was accepted at New Jersey Medical School where Iwill be starting in August 2023.