What's the best thing about being a marine biologist?… It gives you a sense of porpoise!
Hello, I’m Sandra Jaskowiak, a co-op student who recently joined the Taxonomy and Biodiversity team at The Huntsman Marine Science Centre. I will be here until the end of this year (2023), and I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved in the exciting research happening at Huntsman. I can’t wait to bring you along my exciting journey through this blog!
First, let me tell you a little more about myself. I have always had an interest and passion for the ocean and the creatures that call it home, so I decided to pursue my dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Currently, I’m in the final year of my Undergraduate Co-op degree, specializing in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario. What’s so special about a Co-op degree, you may ask? Well, although it takes one extra year to complete compared to a typical undergrad, the co-op program allows students the invaluable chance to complete full-time work terms throughout their degree to build valuable career skills, gain job experience, and form a network in their area of study. As a co-op student, I get to work at Huntsman Marine on a 4-month work term to develop skills for my future marine biology career, all before graduation. That sounds like a pretty epic opportunity to me!
Growing up in Mississauga, Ontario, I have never had the chance to visit Canada’s East Coast until now. I am definitely having an easy time getting used to the beautiful views and stunning sunsets of Passamaquoddy Bay from my new home in St. Andrews.
Sunsets in St. Andrews. Credit: Sandra Jaskowiak
As for my position at Huntsman Marine, I am working closely with Dr. Claire Goodwin: Research Scientist in Taxonomy and Biodiversity, dive safety officer and sponge expert. I’ll be contributing to two main projects. The first is a baseline study to monitor marine habitats and species in Passamaquoddy Bay, helping us understand their current composition and how these environments have evolved over time. The second is a barcoding project that focuses on populating DNA barcode libraries with Canadian Atlantic marine invertebrate species. By matching unique DNA barcodes to specific species, we can add to online barcode libraries that enable the identification of species based solely on their DNA. Kind of like a 23andMe DNA test but for all the species we know of. This can enhance the ability for scientists to monitor biodiversity of Marine Protected Areas in the future. Through my work term, I will be involved in lots of exciting tasks including lab work, field work, data entry and science communication.
I can’t wait to take you along my journey and give you a glimpse into the world of the Taxonomy and Biodiversity research team at The Huntsman Marine Science Centre. Stay tuned for plenty of photos, stories, intriguing facts, and even some marine biology humor, all in one blog!