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Student Spotlight: Brandy Armstrong

Student Spotlight: Brandy Armstrong

Degree Path: PhD in Marine Science


What interested you about your field of study?

I love that Oceanography is by nature collaborative because it spans interconnected disciplines (physical, biological, chemical, geological, environmental, technological, blue economy, etc.) and the entire globe. I have connections, colleagues and friends all over the world. My course study has focused on physical oceanography, ocean engineering, physics and math. My specific interest is in developing and verifying ocean models of coastal processes that can be used to create products to inform policy and decision makers.

What is/was the road to your degree path? 

I earned my BS in Marine Science in the University of South Carolina Honors College where I was able to convert my bachelors to a 5 years MS degree. I had been working professionally for 15 years, including 7 years with the USGS Coastal Marine Geology Program in Woods Hole, before I landed a position at the University of Southern Mississippi and decided to pursue my PhD part-time.

Why did you choose USM?

As someone returning to school mid-career it is essential to be able to work and study at a top research University. I have been able to work with my advisors to secure funding for my PhD work and USM offers staff credit towards classes each semester.

At USM I have leadership, career growth and networking opportunities as well as positive mentors. I have been able to continue my volunteering and mentorship roles through IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society and work with the USM student branch chapter. I am also nearby family and able to maintain a work life balance.


What type of job do you hope to obtain in your field of study after you graduate?

I would like to continue working as a research scientist and mentoring students and young professionals through my volunteer efforts with the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.


If you are a recent graduate, do you have a job in your degree field?  What does that job entail?

I am currently a staff research scientist with the ocean modeling group in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering. I am working to develop a Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Wave Sediment Transport (COAWST) model of the Mississippi Sound and Bite. We plan to create a forecast modeling system that couples our physical model with habitat suitability and bio-geochemical models to support federal and state-level resource managers working on marine habitat restoration and fisheries management.


Please share any other information that you feel would be helpful to other students or potential students about your degree. 

Remember this is no right/wrong career path, so ditch that mentality and recognize there are a myriad of ways to succeed. You have to define what career success means to you. Take opportunities to become an active, positive mentor and role model, and contribute to the success of your network. You will benefit from these connections and develop leadership skills that help build confidence. You cannot make a “wrong” career choice if you make choices that are based on the peace of mind and self-satisfaction that choice will provide.


Learn more about the Marine Science program