Introducing our Summer Research Fellows!

Summer time in Seward means more sun, more visitors, and at the ASLC: more new faces! Since 1999 we have offered summer internships/fellowships in everything from animal husbandry to marketing to research.

Meet the 2017 Research Fellows: where they came from and what they are working on here at the ASLC!

Ally

AllyHey everyone! I’m Ally, a new research fellow at the ASLC working with juvenile Steller sea lion diving behavior. I have a rather varied background, with a Bachelor’s in both Theater Arts and Math, because why not? Recently, I graduated from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at University of Miami with my Masters of Professional Science in Marine Conservation. While there, my thesis focused on the growth rates of invasive lionfish in the Dry Tortugas National Park, which meant I caught and ate a lot of lionfish (trust me, it’s delicious!). Since I’m relatively new to the marine science world, I have been investigating different aspects of this field in order to gauge where I want to focus my future. Right now at the ASLC, I’m in the process of analyzing dive data to see if we can discern any patterns between the diving behavior of juvenile Steller sea lions and causes of their mortality. Though I do love my coral reefs and reef fish, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying delving into the marine mammal world and learning about a new marine habitat.

Chenoa

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HI! I’m Chenoa, one of the ASLC research fellows for the summer. I recently graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology and a minor in Leadership Studies. I am continuing my education at CNU and working towards a Master’s in Environmental Science. Last summer, I worked as a research assistant for a project testing applications of thermal imaging in wildlife biology, and as a research volunteer at the SeaLife center. This year I am helping collect data on the Steller sea lions at Chiswell Island using remote video cameras. This project focuses on maternal investment and breeding behavior of Steller sea lions. One of my favorite things about Alaska is being able to view amazing wildlife, like lunge-feeding humpback whales, right outside your window!

Raven

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Hey guys! I’m Raven, one of the research fellows monitoring the Steller sea lions on Chiswell Island. I have my bachelors in Marine Biology and International Studies and I’m currently working on my Masters of Professional Science in Marine Conservation at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. At the ASLC, I’m working on documenting behavior, births, and copulations of the Steller sea lions. In addition to my duties as a fellow, I’m working on a project determining whether lateralization exists in mother-pup dyads: that is–whether pups normally situate on the left or right side of the mother and what that means for their protection. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska and now I’m receiving the opportunity to live here and work on a fellowship!

Claire

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I’m Claire, and I’m a research fellow at the ASLC, where I’m studying the embryonic development of Spectacled and Steller’s eiders. Currently, I’m studying for a bachelor’s degree in Biology at Berea College in Kentucky. Afterwards, I hope to pursue an advanced degree in marine biology or conservation. While this is my first time working in a lab, I have spent previous summers kindling my love for animals and nature at the Newport Aquarium in penguin husbandry, and on an alpaca farm at a convent in Indiana (Yes. There are convents with alpacas in the U.S.) I discovered the ASLC last summer on a three-week class trip to Alaska, which was studying climate change. We visited the Center while passing through Seward, and received a BTS tour of the facility. I instantly fell in love with the Center, and committed myself to returning. Now that I’ve gotten my wish, I’m dissecting and analyzing the eggs of our Spectacled and Stellar eiders, taking samples form the yolk and albumen (the whites) for DNA sampling, testing for possible infections and more.

Alyssa

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Hi there! I’m Alyssa Bjorkquist and I am the last research fellow to arrive at the ASLC! My educational background is in Marine Biology and Psychology—a perfect combination for studying behavior and physiology. I graduated from the University of Oregon in June 2016 and spent time at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. My honors thesis attempted to show that Pisaster ochraceus had variable morphology based on wave activity and developmental period; however, I mostly crawled around tidepools at night with glass lanterns during winter storms and analyzed photos (It’s the lessons learned that count!) After graduating, I moved to Catalina Island for one year and taught visiting 4-12th grade kiddos about marine biology, island ecology, and leadership development. Every minute of working as part of the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) team was a privilege, but I really needed to learn more about marine research before deciding a career path, and now we’re caught up to the present!  At the ASLC, I’m working part of the week with the Interpretation Department and the other part with Brandon Russell in the PHOCAS Lab (Physiology and Health of Cooperating Arctic Seals). I am working on multiple projects that are aiming to uncover mysteries about basic physiology and behavior of ice seals. Since they live in such a critical habitat, we need to understand fundamental aspects of the organism before we can protect them or their habitat. I love how interdisciplinary my project is and am learning so many lessons from my mentor and the Mammals Department.

Taylor

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Hello everyone! My name is Taylor Brooks and I am a summer fellow at the ASLC working in the interpretation department and on the Chiswell research project. I just completed my third year studying zoology at Oklahoma State University. At school, I am currently working on a research project studying the consequences of stress for diet balancing by insects. My background thus far has been very general, but I plan to go on to study marine invertebrates in the future. Last year, I spent a semester on exchange at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau to take marine biology courses. I found out about the summer fellowship here at the ASLC through that program. While working with the Chiswell team, I am recording the daily census of the number of Steller Sea Lions out on the Chiswell rookery and recording the behavior of the bulls. I am hoping to learn as much as possible about all of our local marine species throughout my time here.

 

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