Alumni Newsletter 2002

Composed by Tim Goater in July, 2002. Thank-you to all the graduates who contributed their time and good works to this year's newsletter.

1996 Graduates

Aran Gough is working for Knight Piésold Consultores S.A. in Lima, Perú, doing Environmental Impact Assessments and other permitting studies primarily for the mining and hydroelectric industries. "I am currently working on two projects for the Antamina Mine (a Canadian owned operation) -an Emergency Response and Contingency Plan for the Antamina Port, and a Complementary Report for the Antamina Port Site EIA; in addition to this I am working on an Integrated Social and Environmental Management Plan for the Manabí Transbasin Water Supply System in the province of Manabí, Ecuador. Once we have completed this project I will take on a supervisory role in the contract we have been awarded for the Environmental Monitoring for the Construction of the Camisea Gas Pipeline (a 760 km long natural gas pipeline that runs from the Camisea Gasfield in the Amazon to Lima). I also have the great fortune to inform all of you that in September of this year I will marry Milagros, my fiancee and partner for 3 years. I recently received a copy of the local Nanaimo newspaper and was impressed to see so many Bachelor of Science graduates from Malaspina. Great Job!!"

Jason Lewis has spent the last year finishing his Master's thesis and traveling in South Africa. He is presently working at an environmental consulting firm in Calgary.

After completing a M.Sc. in Epidemiology at McGill University in the spring of 2001, Amy Weber returned to Vancouver to continue work with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul's Hospital. In addition, she started the Ph.D. program in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology at UBC in September 2001. Amy will enter the combined MD/PhD program in August 2000;"this will provide an excellent opportunity to combine clinical medicine with health research."

Andy Wozney is still at Eurocan Pulp and Paper and has recently moved to the Environmental/Technical Department. "I am the company watch dog for the Air emissions; some of the job duties include reporting pollution control equipment down time, and the results of monthly emission tests to the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. I also help out with various technical aspects of the steam and recovery department."

1997 Graduates

Shelley Jepps continues to work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a Habitat Management Biologist out of Port Hardy, BC. Her job focuses on reviewing aquaculture referrals for impacts to fish and fish habitat. She has also managed to visit Fiji, New Zealand, England, Wales and Ireland this year.

Greg Murray is currently continuing his work as a research technician in Dr. Robert Burke's developmental biology laboratory at the University of Victoria. "I have been working on several different projects, using an echinoderm model to look at protein expression and function during early development. Most recently, I have been employing oligonucleotide microinjection techniques to add or remove specific proteins from developing embryos. The developmental aberrations observed in embryos lacking (or over-expressing) a given protein may then be used to determine the functional role for that protein during development. In addition, I have continued my work characterizing the proteins expressed during the development and differentiation of the echinoid nervous system. I plan to complete and publish most of my recent research this fall, when I plan to move on to pursue research interests in Vancouver".

After almost four years of work as a federal fisheries observer, working for Archipelago Marine Research, Corey Vink left the company to pursue a career in education. "I successfully completed the post-degree professional program in secondary education at the University of Victoria. I then enjoyed a very rewarding practicum experience at John Barsby Community School in Nanaimo. I am currently living in Victoria with my girlfriend, while I am looking for the job that will start me on my way in what will be a very rewarding career".

1998 Graduates

After graduation Melinda Jacobs worked on a joint research project with DFO and Mahata Mariculture, a Marine Fish Hatchery, rearing Halibut and Sablefish. A complete understanding of algae and live invertebrate feed production was required for this project, as well as, knowledge about egg fertilization, disease treatments, larval care, and fish husbandry. When funding was cut for the hatchery project, Melinda stayed on at DFO and began working with the High Seas Salmon group. She is working full time as a research technician for Dr. David Welch. "I am keeping very busy working for DFO. David is always trying to expand our group into new areas of Salmon Research. He is just about to publish a study Adrian Ladouceur (a Malaspina Biology 2000 alumnus) and I worked on regarding the predation of North Pacific Coelenterates by Chum Salmon." Since High Seas Salmon mainly studies salmon migration, Melinda's focus in the group has changed to electronic tagging. "I travel to different locations along the east coast of Vancouver Island and surgically implant acoustic and archival tags into salmon. Then using strategically placed receivers we can monitor where the salmon are going once they leave the rivers. I can't wait to see the results as this is a new and improved fisheries science."

Julian Sturhahn was recently offered a permanent position within DFO as a Salmon Stock Assessment Biologist and moved to Campbell River, BC in December of 2001 to accept this position. "Shortly thereafter I accepted an acting position as the Salmon Stock Assessment Coordinator for the Central Coast Region. This has been a challenging experience and I am enjoying working with a team of young "next generation" biologists and technicians. Some of my new responsibilities have included working jointly with the U.S. on international Pacific Salmon Treaty responsibilities. I recently spent one week in Juneau, Alaska and was able to view many spectacular glaciers on a flight into the Taku River. The Alaskan Department of Fish and Game operates a fish wheel on the Taku to monitor chinook salmon returning to the system. We are responsible for many interesting salmon programs in the Central Coast Region that extends from Campbell River all the way up the B.C. Coast to Klemtu."

1999 Graduates

Jennifer Corlett is currently living in Caracas, Venezuela. "It has been a very interesting experience surviving through the coup attempt on President Chavez. At the time of the coup attempt I was living downtown, approximately three blocks from some of the worst fighting. As there still is a lot of unrest here I have since moved to a seemingly safer neighborhood. I am teaching English conversation and ESL at some of the international companies here in Caracas. I am also enjoying taking daily Spanish classes to improve my communication with the locals. In September, I have been asked to go back to Panama for a couple of weeks to work as a research assistant on a coral reef research project and perhaps work on the turtle protection project taking place there".

Ken Fong is still working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Pacific Biological Station. He has been working with DFO shellfish stock assessment for almost two years, on a variety of species from goose barnacles to clams and now mainly shrimp. "I spend a considerable amount of time at sea throughout the coast doing assessment surveys on shrimp populations. A specific research project concerns the biology of humpback shrimp, the results of which will that will be published in the upcoming year.

Alison Keple just finished her M.Sc. in Zoology at UBC, and has now entered the post-degree education program at UVic, with the goal of becoming a high school biology teacher. This past spring she TA'd the Biology of Marine Mammals course with Jane Watson at the Bamfield Marine Station. In August Alison will be working in Friday Harbour for a couple of weeks with NOAA (the National Oceans and Atmosphere Administration department of the U.S. Government) conducting small boat surveys for harbour porpoises. Then it's back to the books at UVic in the fall to complete her teaching certificate.

After graduating from Malaspina, Cameron Weighill continued with schooling at the British Columbia Institute for Technology and obtained a Bachelors of Technology in Environmental Health. After spending 6 months working as Environmental Health Officer for the Capital Health Region (Victoria) Cameron heading off to graduate school, where he is currently obtaining his Masters of Science in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Calgary in the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Disease. His current research involves the molecular epidemiology of Giardia duodenalis (syn. lamblia, intestinalis), the causative agent of Beaver Fever.

2000 Graduates

Andrew Cameron is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC. "I work in the lab of Dr. Rosemary Redfield, where our research focus is DNA uptake (a.k.a. natural competence) by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. This mechanism is of great interest as it can facilitate gene exchange (like the acquisition of antibiotic resistance) in bacteria. My thesis work is concerned with bacterial gene regulation, specifically the regulation of genes responsible for natural competence. My hypothesis suggests a novel role for a regulatory protein, CRP, which has the distinction of being one of the best-characterized regulatory proteins and serves as a model for gene regulation in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Consequently, my work may well extend beyond the study of natural competence. Other interests include evolution, microbial ecology, and getting out of the lab at the end of the day".

Amelia Grant has continued working with Active Pass Pharmaceuticals in Vancouver since the fall of 2000. She recently concluded her research on Alzheimer's disease involving the screening of drugs against B-amyloid, a potentially plaque forming peptide that can lead to Alzheimer's disease. Now her focus is on a drug-screening program with ABC (ATP Binding Cassette) transporters as the targets. Abnormally functioning ABCTs can contribute to the pathology of numerous diseases including cystic fibrosis, cancer and AMD (Age-Related Macular degeneration). Her research focuses on finding effectors of ABCTs in hopes of discovering a potential treatment for the associated disease. In order to screen hundreds of drugs against multiple ABCTs, Amelia has also started to incorporate robotics. She has learned to program a liquid handing system, or as it is more comically referred to, 'Bob, the robot' and integrating it into the drug screening assays to increase thru-put. In the summer of 2001, Amelia traveled to New Zealand and Australia where she was able to scuba-dive in the Great Barrier Reef where she says, "Diving amongst uncountable fish species and beautiful coral shapes, not to mention, the very cute but evasive sea turtle, was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences I have ever had".

Andrea Griffiths is working at UBC as a research assistant/technician in a lab that researches the olfactory system as well as spinal cord injuries. Her plans this summer include hiking on Vancouver Island and taking a trip to Cuba with her fiancé Michael.

Christa Hrabok is still working at the Pacific Biological Station within the Pelagics group of Stock Assessment. She is now working with both the Pacific herring and Pacific sardine fish species. She continues to be part of both the Herring Coded-Wire Tag and the Juvenile Herring programs, as well as participating in the development of a commercial fishery for sardines.

Willie Jeffries is employed as an Evaluation Biologist with Health Canada in Ottawa. This new position is with the Health Products and Food Branch - Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate. "Currently I am responsible for evaluating a variety of old/new biological drug products (clinical trial data, stability data, chemistry and manufacturing etc.) to ensure compliance with Schedule D of the Food and Drugs Act. I am also on several internal/external working groups to develop policy for the regulation of cells, tissues and organs in Canada."

Aaron Jex is currently working on his Ph.D. in parasitology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He is studying the nematode parasites living within the hindguts of cockroaches in Queensland. This project is divided between an assay of a family of wild rainforest-dwelling cockroaches called Panesthinae, and the more commonly known and much less charismatic urban pest cockroaches found within Brisbane itself. While he understands that most people find his project inspirational for comic purposes, he would like to point out that it does have many important goals which will increase the understanding of host/parasite interactions, inter and intra specific associations within closely knit parasite guilds, and the general taxonomy of the nematode parasites of arthropods. Furthermore, he would like to point out that, even as he writes this update on his progress, it is currently the middle of winter in Brisbane, yet the sun is shining, it is 24 degrees and he has not seen a drop on rain in three weeks. In September, he will be attending the Australian Parasitological Societies annual meeting, this year held in Tasmania, and, in October, will be in Cairns for two weeks studying the cockroaches of Northern Queensland that are among the largest and most diverse cockroaches in the world. In closing he would like to once again thank all those at VIU who have helped him on his way. He will never forget all that was done for him and wishes everyone the best in the coming year."

Tina McCann is employed with the B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection in the Fish Health Unit. In October 2001 she completed an internship project with the Fish Health Unit in which she successfully developed a PCR test for the detection of Herpesvirus salmonis (also referred to as Salmonid Herpesvirus-1). "I have since been transferred into an acting position as senior laboratory technician in the Fish Health Unit. It is a very interesting and challenging position which I am enjoying very much."

After returning from her travels abroad Kim Taylor embarked on another long quest: the quest for employment in the field of Biology. I finally landed a job at the Pacific Biological Station here in Nanaimo. I am working in Parasitology doing studies on the same parasite I did my 491 on! That parasite would be the infamous Kudoa thrysites, a myxozoan parasite of fish that causes the fish to go mushy (post-mortem myoliquefaction) after they are harvested. This, no doubt, leads to huge economic losses in the salmon farming industry. We are doing numerous studies on Kudoa. For example, we just terminated a Depth Study. The depth study involved putting the fish out at the sea farm site and exposing them to sea water that was being pumped in at different depths. This will show us if the fish were more likely to be infected at one depth than the other. Now that we have sampled the fish, we will do the histological processing (i.e. make slides) and read the slides. It has been great working at the station and seeing a few of my fellow grads who have also found positions with DFO. Although I do work hard, there is still time to play. I have been filling my weekends with Beautiful BC excursions and Gulf Island exploration. Next week I will be hiking in Garabaldi Park. We hope to climb a few mountains and see some spectacular scenery.

Tanya Wood is at UBC working on her Ph.D. She has recently completed her comprehensive examination that is needed to advance to Ph.D. candidacy. "Studying for my comp was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The exam was very fair, but I am so glad it's over with!" Tanya has finally settled on a project for her thesis that has nothing to do with platelets or patients with anemia. She is currently cloning the multi-copper oxidase Hephaestin with the hopes of expressing, purifying, and characterizing the recombinant protein. "Hephaestin is a great protein to be working on, as only 23 papers have ever been published on it. Hephaestin is involved in iron metabolism, as it is the protein that oxidizes ferrous iron to ferric iron in the gut, allowing the iron to be picked up and transported throughout the body by transferrin." Tanya's marriage to Brett Griffiths is coming up very quickly (August 10th)!! Tanya and Brett are planning a relaxing honeymoon around BC and hope to travel to more tropical places next year!

2001 Graduates

Since graduation, Mandy Butler was offered a full-time job with CFAX 1070am & extreme 107.3fm in Victoria as Promotions Director. "Although this has nothing to do with my degree, I am enjoying being back in Victoria with friends and family. As for the future...who knows!"

For Shannon Derksen September 2001 marked the beginning of course work and the end of a successful research summer in the Master's of Pest Management program at Simon Fraser University. For the past two semesters, Shannon has gained excellent teaching experience as a teaching assistant for both introductory biology and wildlife biology. " I am currently completing two field courses---forestry pest management and urban pest management. From planning aerial applications of insecticides to inspecting the hold of grain transport ships in Vancouver harbour to exploring the forests of the B.C. interior, these field courses have exposed me to an incredible number of career options and have provided invaluable hands-on experience. For the remainder of the summer, I will continue to study the chemically mediated host-finding behaviour of the Peachtree borer, Synanthedon exitiosa, a serious pest of fruit trees in B.C. Through a series of lab and field experiments, I will test the attractiveness of several chemical blends (derived from the resin of peach trees, Prunus persicae, and the excreta of S. exitiosa larvae) to conspecific adults and larvae. Between trips to the Okanagan Valley, writing exams, and co-ordinating a couple of research assistants, I hope to find time to do a little camping this summer, before diving back into course work in September".

Tanya Giesbrecht has been living the life of a Wildlife / Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Contractor. "I like that I get to work on a variety of projects and I never have time to get bored with my job! Some of the projects that I have worked on include Marbled Murrelet terrestrial surveys, compilation of Marbled Murrelet data, a Great Blue Heron early nesting season inventory, and digitizing and generating maps for Wildlife Habitat Areas. Currently I am coordinating the Bullfrog public education and control efforts on central Vancouver Island. I have a lot of fun catching the frogs; it brings back childhood memories! When I am not working I enjoy playing in the great outdoors with my boyfriend Korey and volunteering for Nanaimo Search and Rescue."

Donovan Lynch is still working for Environment Canada as a field technician for a large multi-year project. "My job is constantly changing, it never seems to get repetitive. There is always something new and interesting to do. In addition, I have been working on a project looking at the effects of UV light on Coho salmon development. I have had some opportunities to continue with my undergraduate work. I plan on working for Environment Canada for the duration of the project. Afterwards, I may continue my education."

Upon graduation Liane Orrey took 4 months off and relaxed, partied and camped. "In September, I started working in Victoria as a somatic embryogenesis technician at CELLFOR Inc. In December I was hired as a genetics technician for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. I plan to stay at PBS for a while and eventually go work abroad, hopefully in Australia."

Since graduation, Jennifer Toole has been working on several different projects for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. "I was involved with the commercial prawn fishery as a management technician from May until October. Then I worked as editor on the Northern Abalone Recovery Strategy for SARA from November until March, and then was lucky to find a position in licensing once the budget cuts came into effect. In addition to the ongoing work for DFO I presented my undergrad research at the International Marine Mammal Conference in Vancouver in November and worked on a contract for Nuu Chah Nulth Tribal Council over the winter. Work and play have taken me all over the Island to areas I would probably never have visited otherwise. So far so good, I am enjoying the biology lifestyle".

2002 Graduates

Since graduation Greg Janzen has mostly been catching up on all the projects one has with three kids and a large dog. "I must admit, my degree did not prepare me well for advanced tree-fort and dog house construction. However, this kind of work is a nice change from studying all the time. I recently was notified of my acceptance into the Bachelor of Education Post Baccalaureate program at Malaspina. I also started working as a tutor for adults returning to school who need math upgrading. The fact that I am teaching math would probably make my old calculus teacher roll over in her grave! Whatever the Education curriculum brings, I will miss my old biology comrades and wish them all the best."

Upon graduation, Anna Nelson went to Santa Cruz, California to work for the Benthic Lab of Moss Landing Marine Labs- a California State University campus and research facility. She is currently involved in habitat restoration of sand dunes, wetlands and salt marshes; this entails the removal of invasive, exotic species of plants and the propagation and establishment of native (Central Californian) plants in order to reestablish a functioning ecosystem. "In the past couple of months I have been exposed to so many areas of biology, all of which I find interesting. I have had the opportunity to work inside the lab with some very well known research associates. I have also been able to work with kids and share with them knowledge and enthusiasm for conservation and ecology. I have even been assigned my own restoration site to manage. There is plenty of opportunity in the field of biology that I didn't even know existed!"

Shortly after graduation, Shawn Stenhouse, was hired on with Fisheries and Oceans at the Pacific Biological Station. "Most of my work is with the sport fishery and with Pacific salmon stock assessment. The people are great and the work is fun. Who can complain about spending the day in a Zodiac on the water?! Outside of the work life, I am currently living in Nanaimo with Liane and we have a little kitten, appropriately named Darwin! In the future we plan to go traveling and seek out job opportunities throughout the tropics, in either Australia or Belize. But, in the mean time I am enjoying life without school for right now."

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