Skip to main content

Featured Student Friday: Madelyn Houde, Marine Sciences ’18

Each week, SFRC highlights a fantastic student or alumnus for #FeaturedStudentFriday. Today’s alumnus is Madelyn Houde, who graduated in Spring 2018 with a bachelors in Marine Sciences. She is currently working as a member of the Ice Castles Build Crew, and this summer will join the Great Basin Institute as a Plant Surveyor.

What’s the best thing about your current position?

The best thing about my current position is getting to build something so out of the ordinary for no other reason than to delight and amaze. Building an ice castle knowing that it is going to melt within a few short months requires a unique outlook. It is naturally an ephemeral experience, but one that requires a ton of hard work from a crew of dedicated people. It is a great feeling to be part of that crew. I also love the artistic aspect of the position. There are many different ways to build the castle, and stepping into different areas of the castle, you can visually see each crew member’s style and impact on the overall structure.


Was there any key thing that set you on the path towards SFRC?

I was originally drawn to SFRC because of the community-feeling it provided within such a large university. This was confirmed to me as I entered my major courses and had tons of opportunity to connect with classmates and professors. Even now it is great to see what my SFRC classmates are getting up to in their post-grad life!


What drives you?

I would say I am currently being driven by a desire to learn in as broad of a spectrum as possible. For me, this translates to continuing to work seasonally. Working seasonally has been a game-changer for me. It allows me to really delve into different disciplines to figure out what I like, all the while getting to learn something new. Last summer I worked with the Forest Service doing stream surveys, this winter I have been building an ice castle, and this coming summer I will be transitioning into the terrestrial to perform plant surveys. The other perk is you get to live and work in some beautiful places.


What were your struggles to get where you are today?

I definitely struggled with feeling like the only student without a set career-path in marine sciences. It can feel overwhelming to attempt to pare down what you like and dislike in a field, while your peers already seem to have a ten year plan figured out. I dealt with this by reminding myself that there is time for it all (literally). Take the time now to explore and shift your focus as your interests naturally change. It also helped me to realize that nobody in their twenties really has it all figured out.


What advice would you give to a younger you?

A year ago I got some pretty great advice from a graduate student in SFRC. This is the same advice I would pass on to younger me – or any student starting out. Take any position that interests you. Even if it seems impractical or strange, it may end up leading you down paths you would have never considered otherwise.


Do you have a favorite memory of your time at SFRC?

Intro to fishery science takes the cake for some of my favorite memories at SFRC. Nothing quite beats getting to spend your afternoons electrofishing on a boat out on Lake Alice. One afternoon, we even caught a gator!


Are you working on anything exciting you’d like to share?

Pretty soon here I’ll be transitioning to my summer gig out in Washington state. If any Gators make it out west, let me know!


Do you know a fantastic SFRC student or alum who should be featured? Email us at!