From Halibut to Sleeper Sharks
I transferred to UAS with a varied array of university attendance already under my belt. I had previously been enrolled in other schools in Utah, Anchorage, Hawaii, and Mexico. While all were important experiences, none offered the comprehensive, stimulating, and personalized education I found at UAS. The transfer to UAS represented a marked change in my perception toward education and of self application. Course enrollment and attendance were no longer jaded tasks, but were healthy challenges. I found that I truly love formal education when it is taught by exceptional and enthusiastic instructors, and the classroom frequently seeps out into the wilderness. Both are commonplace at UAS. In my two years studying at UAS, I was able to more than get my feet wet in marine biology. Aside from everyday classes that took me out voyaging on boats, tromping through forests, and prodding through tide pools, I was able to spend the summer of 2006 researching sleeper sharks with Beth Mathews, a UAS faculty member. Here, I played an active role in planning and implementing research on sleeper shark diet and distribution. I spent my time both interviewing long-line fishermen and fishing for these massive 9-foot sharks. Somewhere mixed in the moments of pulling slimy 100 lb halibut into a boat, measuring hematocrit of squirming spot shrimp, necropsying harbor seals, and tagging sleeper sharks, I met the true biologist within me. It has always been there, but it truly needed the rigorous scientific training and preparation UAS provided me in order to be of any use. I have recently graduated and for the first time, I feel that I am a capable biologist. This milepost is far from the end of the line, as I am already planning graduate school studies and summer field research employment. In graduate school I anticipate studying fisheries and their interactions with marine mammals.
UPDATE: Suzie is attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries Program as a master's candidate this fall.