Sarah Cozart, MSU Billings graduate | photo courtesy of MSUB

MSUB Environmental Studies Graduate Making a Difference

July 20, 2022

from MSU Billings media release

Recent Montana State University Billings environmental studies graduate and pilot Sarah Cozart missed her recent college graduation for an extremely unique reason: She was flying a research mission for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to locate the North Atlantic Right Whale, an endangered species. Cozart is currently flying in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada to search for and document the whales’ location which will assist authorities in guiding fishing routes to prevent whale deaths due to boat strikes or entanglement in fishing gear. 

According to Cozart, she applies a lot of what she learned from MSUB’s environmental studies program in her current job. “I have used many of the things I learned at MSUB to better understand our research missions, as well as the complexity of some of the federal and state legislation, policy making, and local impact to the environment, economy, and people,” she says. “I’m thankful I was able to learn in such a supportive program that helped expand my understanding of the world around us and prepare me for the next step in my career.”

Susan Gilbertz, Ph.D., professor of geography at MSUB, notes that Sarah is an exceptional student and deserving of the MSUB Environmental Studies Citizenship Award, which is awarded to graduates who are making a difference in their field. 

Sarah, originally from Grand Blanc, Michigan, underwent her initial flight training in Virginia. She started her career as an aircraft mechanic in Cape Cod, MA, where she first learned about NOAA and the research they conduct for science and the environment. It was then that she decided she wanted to eventually fly for them. Cozart was hired as a pilot for Cape Air and flew for them for almost four years, which brought her to Billings where she found MSUB’s environmental studies program.

Cozart has previously been part of other marine missions including coastal mapping and a tagging mission to survey leatherback turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Later this summer, Cozart heads to Alaska for the Arctic Heat Mission and to California for the California Fire Dynamics Experiment. Her ultimate goal is to become a hurricane hunter and fly NOAA’s P-3 aircraft into hurricanes to gather data that will help scientists better understand how climate change is affecting the strength and frequency of these storms and provide critical life-saving data to authorities.

Learn more about MSUB’s environmental studies program.

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