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Dalton Sink is interested in freshwater biology. After earning his bachelor’s in Biology from UM-Flint, he accepted a position as an environmental biologist at the Holly-based company Aqua-Weed, where he conducts water quality testing and lake consulting. In particular, he is concerned with the development of safe—and effective—plant control methods. To take his work to the next level, Sink continued his education with the MS in Biology at UM-Flint. His thesis project explores the efficacy and environmental impact of industrial products on the common problem of algae and nuisance plants in lakes and ponds.

Working full-time and completing his MS in Biology creates a demanding schedule, but Sink has found a supportive community in the master’s program.

“My faculty advisor, Dr. Heather Dawson, has been really great. Anytime I have new content or revisions for my thesis, she sends me feedback shortly after,” Sinks says. “I’ve had to change my project objectives since beginning, but Heather and my thesis committee have been very open to making this program work for me.”

In addition to his area of focus, Sink appreciates the broad look at biology the master’s program offers him. In BIO 587: Forest Ecology, he learned more about the growth cycles of trees, which also informs what the environment will be like at the water’s edge. Making connections between different areas of biology has been beneficial for aquatically minded Sink.

Sink has also participated in an on-going aquaponics experiment with the department, in which students are growing vegetables using the waste produced by freshwater prawns. You can watch a short video on the experiment here. This project also necessitated a shift in thinking for Sink.

“Normally I’m trying to manage vegetation, not necessarily trying to grow it. So this was an interesting change of pace,” he says.

With one more course to complete and his thesis to defend, Sink is nearing the end of his master’s program. While juggling time at work, classes, and thesis research has not always been easy, he has found success in all with help from the UM-Flint community.

“You get to see and work with people who aren’t in your specific field, but that is helpful when it comes time to collaborate academically or professionally. You’re going to have a great support system around you with the professors and even other students in this program.”

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