From: Telford, Pennsylvania
Education/Background: Graduated with a degree in Marine Science from the University of New England in May of 2020. Hoping to pursue a MS and PhD in the near future.
Reasons for coming: During my undergraduate education I worked with the Sulikowski Shark & Fish Lab for two summers in the Gulf of Maine. I spearheaded a pilot study using baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVS). This study was the first of its kind in Maine waters and a paper will be submitted for review in the coming months. During my summers in Maine, I assisted with several other research projects at the Sulikowski Lab. These included ecology and movement of sturgeon, tagging and monitoring of blue and porbeagle sharks, and longlining surveys. I also had the opportunity to travel to Belize for a course where we spent a week snorkelling and observing the various coral species and the ecology of the reefs overall. With my experiences in Maine and abroad, I became extremely interested in shark management and conservation as well as the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans. I hope to expand on my past experiences here at BBFSF and determine the specifics of what type of research I would like to pursue in my future endeavors.
From: Alexandria, Virginia
Education/Background: Bachelors of Science in Biology and Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University. Planning to pursue my MS and PhD in the future.
Reasons for coming:
After spending my entire childhood in and around water, I quickly knew I wanted to pursue a career in marine science. During my undergraduate degrees at Coastal Carolina, I spent a week at BBFSF as part of a Shark Biology course, which completely changed my outlook on research and really set the trajectory for the rest of my education. I finished out my undergrad by working on a research project observing, identifying, and recording fish species and behaviors captured on a mid-shelf underwater camera off the coast of Cape Fear, NC, including eight species of sharks and two species of rays. I then wrote my senior honors thesis about how anthropogenic ocean acidification has been observed to affect shark physiology and behavior. After visiting BBFSF for only a week, I knew I wanted to come back as a volunteer to further my field research skills, gain invaluable experience, and contribute to the conservation of Bimini’s elasmobranchs. I hope to use what I learn at BBFSF as I pursue further education and research opportunities into how climate change is affecting the ocean and how we can better protect the species within it.
From: Red Hook, NY
Education/Background: BS in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences with a concentration in Marine Biology and Conservation from Cornell University (Dec 2020). Sustainable Fisheries Research Assistant at Cornell University (2018-2020). Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Intern at the New York Aquarium (Summer 2019) Marine Environmental Science TA at Shoals Marine Lab (July 2018) Invasive Species Research Assistant (2015-2017). Planning to pursue an MS and Ph.D. in the near future.
Reasons for coming: I grew up on a farm in Upstate NY and was very active in local 4H clubs which fostered my love of both animals and teaching/engaging with the public on various conservation issues and animal care. It wasn’t until high school when I took a marine biology course, that I fell in love with marine megafauna and shifted my focus away from farm animals towards the fascinating underwater creatures I had studied. During my time in high school, I also participated in research studying an invasive species of shrimp in the Finger Lakes region where I grew to love fieldwork and research and co-authored a paper around the various impacts of light, substrate, and predator interactions on this particular species that was published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research in the spring of 2020. At Cornell, I worked in a Lab in the Animal Science Department that focused on designing more sustainable alternatives to a traditional fish feed using fishery waste. Following my Freshman year, I spent a summer at Shoals Marine Laboratory where I gained hands-on experience with the various species that live around Maine through several intensive courses and was asked to stay and help teach a Marine Environmental Science course to High School students. In 2019, I interned at the New York Aquarium in the Sharks department and fell even more in love with them which led me to the Shark Lab. I am excited to gain more hands-on experience with the Sharks and Rays of Bimini as well as getting to work with the local community and our social media platforms to further develop my outreach and teaching skills. In Addition, I look forward to exploring the various projects being conducted at the SharkLab as I narrow my research interests for when I pursue a master's and Ph.D.
From: Southampton (UK)
Education/Background: Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Exeter (2020). Currently studying a Masters by Research at Exeter focusing into Marine biology, and conducting a study at the Bimini Shark Lab in connection with Clemency White's PhD study 'Anthropogenic Impacts on the Sensory Capabilities of the Lemon Shark'.
Reasons for coming: Living on the south coast of England has resulted in my keen love of the ocean. Things growing up like swimming and snorkeling in the sea, rock pooling, and diving has helped to develop this into a keen interest of all marine life. This has led into my wanting to become a scientist in marine research.
Being part of an Operation Wallacea conservation programme during my A-levels including a weeks diving in the Galapagos Islands, completing a field research module at University involving Coral and Fish diversity surveys in San Salvador, and graduating from the University of Exeter with a Bsc in Biological Sciences focusing on conservation and ecology has helped to further and widen my knowledge and experiences in the marine environment and research.
Being offered by my University lecturer to stay on to complete a Masters by Research, conducting my research at the Bimini Shark Lab has given me my next opportunity. I look forward and am excited to learn more from everyone at the lab and develop my understanding of marine research here.
From: Bournemouth, UK
Education/Background: Currently studying Animal behaviour and welfare at University of Plymouth
Reasons for coming: Being lucky enough grow up on the South coast of England I have spent my life either on or in the ocean; this is how my fascination with the ocean began. The sheer expanse and unknown of the ocean is what I am most drawn to and making the unknown known is my goal.
I was first drawn to the BBFS after reading about their current projects and talking to previous volunteers. After hearing about their experiences and the difference the Lab makes I knew that this opportunity would be the best way for me to pursue a career in marine biology. So here I am! I’m looking forward to all I will learn and the invaluable experiences that I will no doubt come away from this place with.
From: St. Louis, Missouri
BS in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Health and Medicine at Webster University. Contributor to the manuscript in review, “Lysoptosis: an ancient and evolutionarily-conserved cell death pathway moderated by intracellular Serpins”.
Reasons for coming: Growing up I have always been attracted to the water. I started out as a lake baby and took yearly trips to the ocean. Those trips turned into an extreme fascination with marine life. I spent most of my time on those vacations kayaking the ocean trying to get a closer look at absolutely anything that crossed my path. When not at the ocean, I was always kayaking local rivers and lakes looking for adventure and wildlife. Unfortunately, living in Missouri I could not take the path I wanted. Instead, I volunteered at our Conservation and Education Center. There, I taught about water conservation, health of ecosystems, local waterways and the Mississippi Watershed. As an undergrad, I studied the learning, memory, and navigation in Western Harvester Ants. Though these organisms are much different than sharks, it gave me that thrill of studying animal behavior. Now, I am excited to finally apply similar research on sharks and move towards the career I was meant to do. I hope to transfer my skills of organism observation and equipment use from working at Washington University’s Molecular Microbiology department to the Bimini Shark Lab. I believe this internship is perfect to provide me with great knowledge and experience to move towards my future goals.
From: From: Rutherford, New Jersey
Education/background: Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). Planning on pursuing a PhD in the near future.
Reasons for coming: At a young age, I was taught the importance of the ocean and to appreciate wildlife. Despite being from a small town outside New York City, I have spent most of my life on the ocean in Seaside Park, New Jersey. With this, I developed a strong passion for shark conservation and plans to pursue a career in marine biology. I have always been captivated by sharks and their vital role in the marine ecosystem. During my time at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), where I was a teaching assistant in the ichthyology laboratory, I completed an individual research project studying the life history characteristics of spiny dogfish sharks. I also spent time studying in Belize where I gained experience exploring and researching the different marine ecosystems on Turneffe Island. After my time there, I designed a research project comparing the fish diversity within the different reef ecosystems. As a senior in college, I worked as an intern in a sea turtle hospital where I assisted in the mass recovery of over 100 sick, injured, and cold-stunned sea turtles. Since graduating, I have continued to pursue a career studying elasmobranchs as well as the different anthropogenic effects they encounter. Gaining more knowledge in understanding shark behavior through my own research project, working alongside Clemency White, as well as other members of the BBFSF, will be invaluable to my career and my education.
From: Gallatin, Tennessee, USA
Education/Background: Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (December 2020). Hoping to pursue higher education soon.
Reasons for coming: I have wanted to study sharks for as long as I can remember, and when I heard about the Shark Lab in 2014, I knew that I had to come and learn here. Because I live and attended school far from the ocean in landlocked states, I have not had many fieldwork opportunities in marine science. However, I have sought out and made as many opportunities that I could for myself. My first introduction to marine science was a field class that I attended through my university at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island, Georgia. It was here that I learned how much I loved being in the field. My job at my university as an American football equipment manager also made me realize how much I loved working in a fast-paced and continuously changing environment. After returning from my trip to Sapelo Island, it sparked my curiosity and led me to develop an independent project studying climate change effects on brine shrimp populations. In additional classes, I developed a conservation management plan for the Australian grey nurse shark and completed my undergraduate honors thesis on the distribution of marine megafauna and their prey due to various anthropogenic threats. My lab work and writing made me even more eager to study sharks in their natural environment and realize how much I love communicating and sharing my work with others. The Shark Lab will allow me to gain the field experience that I desire while being able to share it with others. I am so excited to have my first opportunity to participate in shark science here around such passionate and dedicated people and cannot wait to see what it leads to!
From: Milwaukee, WI, USA
Education/Background: BSc in Biological Sciences, minors in French and Conservation and Environmental Sciences (CES) from University of WI-Milwaukee (completed May, 2019)
Aquarium Intern – Discovery World (Summer 2019)
Reasons for coming: Despite growing up in the Midwest, during my early childhood, I developed a deep fascination with sharks (and I never grew out of it)! Throughout college, I worked as a fish husbandry technician in an environmental toxicology laboratory at UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences. While I enjoyed my time in the lab, I always knew I wanted to work with sharks. I am especially excited to be working with BBFSF because the Sharklab’s mission values coincide with my own passion for bridging the communication gap between the scientific community and the general public. In addition to my regular volunteer work, I will be working under PhD candidate Vital Heim to complete an independent research project. My research interests include but are not limited to elasmobranch conservation, bycatch minimization, endangered species protection, sustainable natural resources management, and community-based climate solutions. Small coastal and island communities rely heavily on healthy oceans and often contribute little to climate change, but experience its negative effects, nonetheless. This issue is close to my heart as a Puerto Rican woman, having watched multiple hurricanes devastate the island just over the last few years. Throughout my career, I would like to find new ways to involve small, coastal communities in every step of the scientific process. Additionally, I would like to use my platform as a scientist to advocate for every community’s right to self-determination, while helping individual communities design and implement resource management strategies that will benefit both the local economy and the surrounding marine ecosystems. Having grown up in a major US city, I have seen firsthand the inequities in the opportunities and resources available to individuals experiencing poverty, racism, misogyny, and other forms of systemic oppression. In addition to my own contributions to science, over the entire course of my career, I hope to dedicate significant energy toward helping create research opportunities for marginalized groups around the world who are interested, but often underrepresented, in marine science.