In the Spotlight: December 11 Campus Connections

Faculty Spotlight
Megan McCuller, cutting-edge research

Megan McCuller was part of a scientific team whose research on ocean creatures that hitched rides across the Pacific Ocean following the 2011 Japanese tsunami was featured in a cover story in a recent issue of Science magazine.

McCuller has taught science at SMCC since 2014. Originally from Texas, she has a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Texas

A&M University at Galveston and a master’s degree in zoology from the University of New Hampshire.

While teaching at SMCC, she also worked on a study that collected and analyzed the remains of boats, docks and other structures that crossed the Pacific Ocean and reached the West Coast and Hawaii in the years following an undersea earthquake off Japan that triggered a massive tsunami.

Among the debris, researchers found nearly 300 species of invertebrates (animals without spines) such as mussels, barnacles, sea anemones and crabs that were native to

Japan’s coastal waters and hitched rides across the ocean on the debris.

Experts say it is the largest and longest migration of marine species ever documented.

For the study, McCuller worked as a research assistant to the study’s lead author, James Carlton, a now-retired marine sciences professor at Williams College. McCuller said it was exciting having the research featured in Science magazine, widely considered the world’s leading academic journal for scientific news and research.

“Being in Science at all is a big deal. And then being on the cover, it was pretty awesome.”

Student Spotlight
Justin Duchesne, eye on politics

Justin Duchesne wants to make an impact on Maine’s economy and educational system. He thinks politics is the way to go.

When he came to SMCC in 2014 through the Jobs for Maine Graduates program, Justin was most interested in Construction Technology. But he has since changed his major to Liberal Studies with a Political Science concentration.

Through his volunteer work with the Southern Maine Youth Transition Network and serving on the Student Senate, he decided that politics was in his future. He says he would even like to be governor one day.

Justin plans to graduate in the fall of 2018, and hopes to continue his education in political science after graduation. In politics, he’d like to focus on improving Maine’s K-12 educational system.