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BW alumna in top research role with Coast Guard to protect Great Lakes

Sarah Bowman '07 loves the lake — all five of the Great Lakes. She is awed by their beauty, size and natural resources. But she also knows their vulnerability, which is why she aims to protect them.


Bowman is a senior research scientist for the U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes Oil Spill Center of Expertise (GLCOE) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The GLCOE is a newly established unit with a congressional mandate to conduct scientific research focused on understanding and improving oil spill response in freshwater and frozen Great Lakes environments.

Bowman conducting fieldwork to understand contaminant levels in fish.

It is a new role for the biology major from Hinckley, Ohio, who has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a fish and wildlife biologist and as a toxicologist for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Foundation for her success

"The Baldwin Wallace biology department laid the foundation for my future success as a scientist. The faculty challenged us to pursue our own answers through scientific inquiry in the lab and field. Something that was not obvious to me as a naive undergraduate student is that not all science takes place in a lab or in beautiful scenic locations. Important scientific inquiry happens in non-glamourous locations like collecting stormwater samples underneath urban bridges, which I did during my internship with the Cuyahoga County Health Department," recalled Bowman.

"It was during that internship that I developed a deep appreciation for the wonderful Great Lakes region that I called home. Lately, though, my most meaningful work takes place behind a computer screen and over Teams collaboration calls in order to fund and transition research to operations to better prepare for and respond to oil spills in our treasured Great Lakes," she added.

But Bowman still makes time for in-person lake life by spending time hiking, kayaking and enjoying the Great Lakes region with her family.

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