Alumni Newsletter 2007

Compiled by Tim Goater in June, 2007. A special 'thank you' to the Biology graduates who contributed to this year's newsletter.

1996 Graduates

Aran Gough says that their family now consists of three!  “Our son Aidan was born on February 2, 2006 and is a healthy, happy little boy.  We have also moved again.  Mila, Aidan and I are now back in Lima, Peru after a 2-year stay in Johannesburg.  Although professionally rewarding and the fact that our son was born there, our stay in South Africa was not as successful as we had hoped.  I am still with Knight Piésold – 11 years now (and 11 years since I graduated from Malaspina!).  My latest work has included the successful environmental permitting of a uranium mine in Malawi (a real challenge considering that the majority of people’s understanding of uranium and radiation issues has come from The Simpsons!).  The next project is a polymetallic mine in Eritrea and also a couple of copper mines here in Peru.  Good luck to everyone at Malaspina and especially to Ed for his upcoming retirement”.

Greg Sandland completed his Ph.D. and then did a post-doc at Purdue University in Indiana and will be starting as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in August of 2007.  There he will be teaching a class in ecological parasitology – the same topic that solidified his interest in academics more than a decade ago via Tim Goater at Vancouver Island University.  In addition, Greg recently received the Ashton Cuckler New Investigator Award from the American Society of Parasitologists for his work on the interactions between hosts, parasites and environmental stressors.  He hopes to expand these research questions using local systems in Wisconsin.

1997 Graduates

Gudt’aawt’is hanuu dii kiiga ga. Since graduation Judson Brown has worked as a National Park Warden in several locations including Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Gwaii Haanas.  In addition to public safety and law enforcement duties in these national parks, he has also participated  in resource management projects.  Having a degree has definitely been an asset in working on studies of sea birds, black bears, grizzly bear behaviour, and introduced species.  Judson has recently settled in his homeland, Haida Gwaii, where he learns Xaayda (Haida) language in his spare time.  Having a career with National Parks is definitely in line with his principle of living with nature.  Uu klaan, ‘ahgan hla kyangaay ‘laa.

Shelley Jepps has had a busy year.  She spent a few weeks in Scotland, a few weeks in Barbados and learned how to lay hardwood flooring.  She left her long time position as habitat management biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where she had been dealing with the aquaculture industry from a regulatory perspective, to do some short term policy work for DFO.  "Right before switching jobs I had a fantastic opportunity to SCUBA dive a number of remote sites on our coast from Prince Rupert down to Rivers Inlet.  I stayed in First Nations villages and meet some really neat people".  She is now embarking on her next adventure by moving to Yellowknife for a year.  "I will still be with DFO but dealing primarily with diamond mines and impacts to fish habitat.  My real motivation for going is to experience the north.  I want to see a muskox, the caribou migration, fly over the tundra in a float plane, catch an arctic grayling, stand at the mouth of the Mackenzie River and ride on a dog sled - just for starters."  Shelley and Ky (her faithful canine companion) leave Campbell River, where they have resided for 3 years,for Yellowknife March 30th.

Since graduation Keith Hall has been working for a Sawmill company in Qualicum Beach.  “I have worked my way up through the company and am currently working in Log supply.  My opportunities with the company I am with have taken me to Japan, China, Taiwan and the Philippines.  I met my wife in 1994 at MALU and we were married in 1998.  My wife graduated in 1997 with a teaching degree and is currently teaching at Cobble Hill Elementary School.  We have 3 beautiful children (all girls), Maiya (7), Mackenzie (4) and Kaitlyn (2).  We live in Nanaimo and enjoy spending our summers in our trailer at various campgrounds around the island.  I would like some day to get back to school and pursue a degree in Pharmacy.  Special thanks to the staff of Malaspina and best wishes to all the alumni grads!”

Greg Murray completed his M.Sc. degree at UVic in June, 2000.  Upon leaving the Microarray Group at the Prostate Centre (VGH) in 2004, he worked for a year and a half with an old friend and colleague, Dr. Bruce Brandhorst, at Simon Fraser University.  While at SFU, Greg returned to the developmental cell biology research he began during his years at UVic, using sea urchins as his model organism.  Several of the projects he worked on were collaborations surrounding the Sea Urchin Genome Project, which resulted in the recent publication of 2 more papers (including one in Science!).  In April 2006, Greg took an opportunity to return to VGH to work as a Senior Systems Analyst/Designer supporting Health Records and Transcription (computer databases, hooray!).  Although it has been a steep learning curve this past year, Greg has done quite well and was promoted to permanent status this past fall.  He promptly celebrated his new permanent position by purchasing and moving into a new condominium in Vancouver just 2 days before Xmas 2006!  In his spare time, Greg still manages to keep busy playing drums.  In addition to occasional work as a studio drummer, he has been working consistently with the Geoff Peters Jazz Trio and his own rock band, Portico, is preparing to release their second record and tour across Canada this summer.

Chris Reed is now working as a virology technician for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  He is working in conjunction with the Defense Department on a project called CRTI - Counter Radiological - Chemical - Biological Terrorism Intuitive.  "My research focuses on development of new treatments and immunotherapies against potential bioterrorism agents such as Anthrax, Encephalitis Viruses and others."  In fact, Chris has just published some of his work in the August issue of Protein Expression and Purification.  Outside of the lab Chris's time is still spent in the sciences.  At the beginning of June theAssociation for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society are holding a joint conference at UVic.  Chris is acting on the Conference Committee helping to organize, and participating in, the conference.  Otherwise, his time is spent mountain biking, hiking, climbing and behind a camera trying to launch a new photography business/website.

Christopher Whipps is currently employed as a Post Doctoral Research Associate at Oregon State University in Corvallis Oregon.  His research primarily concerns the evolution and biology of diseases in animal populations through the use molecular systematics.  From a practical point of view, the molecular tools he develops are applied to the diagnosis, epidemiology, and control of pathogens of ecological and veterinary importance.  A few of the pathogens Chris is currently investigating are: Mycobacterium spp. of zebrafish in research facilities; Ichthyophonus hoferi in Yukon River salmon in Alaska; Fascioloides magna in elk; and Blastocystis spp. in humans.  Chris is continually grateful for his undergraduate experience at Malaspina, as well as the continued support and dedication of people like Tim Goater.  Of course there is more to life than just work, and Chris has traveled to South America and Costa Rica in the last few years.  The biggest news is that Chris is getting married this summer.  His fiancée Melissa is originally an islander like him, but from Long Island, NY.  They are both looking forward to moving to Syracuse, NY in 2008 where Chris will begin a new job as Assistant Professor at the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.

1998 Graduates

Melissa Daniels has been working as an Environmental Health Officer with Health Canada for approximately seven years now.  “I am currently completing a Master degree in Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle (part-time).  My son is now 14 years old and in high school”.

Melinda Jacobs has been a Research Biologist with Kintama Research and the Pacific Ocean Tracking Network (POST) projectsince early2000.  This last year the projecthas gone Global (Ocean Tracking Network) which means everyonewill be busier then ever before.  In case you haven't heard of the project, POSTtracksacoustically tagged marine animals throughout British Columbia, Alaska, Idaho, Washington State and more.  "Kintama focuses mainly on juvenile salmon but some scientists aretracking giant squid, 6 gill sharks, sturgeon etc which means everyoneisone step closer to understanding our oceans".  On a personalnote Melinda and Ryan will be celebrating their second year in their house in Chemainus with their two border collies.  "In the past few years I've been working so much that we needed a real vacation so wetravelled to western Mexicoand enjoyed 16 days of ancient ruins and tropical beaches.  I highly recommend the trip and now I wish I would have taken the tropical biology course :)".  If anyone is interested in more information just check out one of the project websites: http://www.oceantrackingnetwork.org/ or  http://www.postcoml.org/

Corey Vink has been pursuinga career in education over the past several years.  “Ihave been teaching in School District 62 (Sooke) since April 2003.  I am currently teaching grade 8 and 9 science at Spencer Middle School in Langford.  Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career and I really enjoy being able to teach students about science.  During the past couple of years, I have also been working as a marine naturalist for Orca Spirit Adventures, an ecotourism company here in Victoria.  I educate customers about the local southern resident killer whales and other spectacular wildlife in our area.  It is a spectacular way to spend my summers "off", and I love to be able to share my passion for the oceanwithpeople from around the world.  This summer will hold anew adventure as I am getting married to my girlfriend of over 7 years, Stephanie”.

1999 Graduates

Jennifer Corlett worked on a local rufous hummingbird research project for fun and experience starting in 2004.  Then in 2005 due to her honed hummer skills she went to Trinidad and Tobago.  She worked in Tobago for six months on a research project studying a threatened species of hummingbird, the White-tailed Sabrewing.  While in Tobago Jennifer also did some environmental survey work that took her all over the island.  "I fell completely in love with Tobago and have been back 5 times since" – that is in addition to her other travels to Latin America.  Once back in Nanaimo Jennifer has continued to participate with the same VI hummingbird project around her day job as a vintner.  She fills the rest of her spare time on the water as she did in college.  She competes with an outrigger canoe team and a dragonboat team.  Not being able to get away from the travel addiction she always has, her thoughts are on the next trip… most likely Africa but one never knows where until the ticket is bought.

Crystal Fehr (nee Montgomery) moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1999 and started her career working for an environmental laboratory.  In 2001 she got married and was hired at The University of Calgary as an animal care technician.  “Over time I've worked my way up and am now the Procurement Coordinator for the U of C, Faculty of Medicine, Animal Resource Centre.  In October 2005 I became a proud mother of my son Cody who is the joy of my life and the best thing I ever did.  In 2007, I separated from my husband and jumped into the real estate market and bought my first condo in Calgary. Calgary has been a great experience for me and I plan on staying here and seeing what the future will bring”.

Ken Fong has been at the Pacific Biological Station for 6 years working in the Shellfish Stock Assessment section.  He is the lead assessment biologist for pink and spiny scallops, but also works on shrimp, prawns and crabs.  “It’s been quite busy at work especially this past year where my field work added up to almost 3 months at-sea.  I have a very supportive wife who understands being away from home is a part of my job, except when she was dealing with a flooded basement by herself during the heavy wind/rain storms of November 2006 while I was on boat.”  Besides work, Ken and his wife Christel find time to fish, camp and travel - highlighted with a trip to Denmark last June.

Alison Keple has been teaching biology full-time at Cowichan Secondary in Duncan.  “I have the best job in the world as not only do I discuss biology all day, I also get such great energy from the kids I teach.  I was honoured this past year to receive the "Alumni Horizons Award" from Malaspina, and was thrilled to accept the award and all the memories of Malaspina it brought back for me.  Non-work time is spent with my husband Jason Sandquist and dog Humu, and trying to explore as many mountain bike trails as I can.  This summer we are planning a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu (without the dog of course!)”.

2000 Graduates

Andrew Cameron defended his doctoral dissertation in April 2007.  His Ph.D. work investigated some of the molecular mechanisms that link environmental stimuli to gene expression in bacteria.  A significant finding was that E. coli takes up DNA from its environment when starved for certain nutrients; thus this bacterium uses genetic material as a source of food instead of as a source of new genes.  Further, Andrew found that using DNA as food is an ancient trait (>700 million years old) that is common in many bacteria species today.  Andrew will spend May – July in Belize assisting with a study of how mangroves recover after hurricane disturbance.  Later this year Andrew will begin postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. de Lorenzo in Madrid, Spain, where he will study how bacteria rapidly evolve to respond to human-generated pollutants.

Andrea Griffiths defended her M.Sc. thesis "Assessing exposure to Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii" in the spring of 2006 at UBC.  The Masters program that she completed at UBC was in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.  The question she is most frequently asked is: What the heck is an occupational hygienist?  Occupational and environmental hygienists are trained to recognize, evaluate and control occupational and environmental hazards.  Andrea began working for the Vancouver Island Health Authority in May 2006 in Nanaimo as a Safety Advisor.  I really like my job! Every day is different whether it's investigating an Indoor Air Quality complaint, giving an educational presentation or fitting staff with respirators.  Andrea and her husband Michael bought their first home in Nanaimo this past Fall.  They spent two months of evenings and weekends renovating and moved in three days before Christmas. Thank goodness we had so much help from friends and family to install hardwood, tiles and paint, we couldn't have done it alone! Andrea and Michael are headed for Montreal in late May and then to Calgary on the way home for a visit with family and friends.

Amelia Grant completed her work with Active Pass Pharmaceuticals in 2002 at which time she left for New Zealand to spend some time with her partner’s family.  Amelia and Daniel also traveled throughout the North and South Island walking through parks, looking under rocks on the beach and listening to bird calls.  One of Amelia’s favorite bird calls is the Tui whose call sounds a bit like a car breaking down, but in a way only Vivaldi could make it sound.  During 2004, Amelia and Daniel returned to Canada where Amelia started her Master’s degree at UBC. She worked under Dr. Trish Schulte and Dr. Colin Brauner looking at how chinook salmon handle a more vegetarian diet.  More specifically, she looked at the ionoregulatory effects of the inclusion of canola oil into the diets of juvenile chinook salmon.  The zoology department at UBC is renowned for its beer seminars and numerous parties and Amelia and Daniel had a lot of fun partaking in the festivities.  After her defense, she started working for UBC and DFO on two projects.  One, looking at ionoregulation of migrating sockeye salmon and the second project looking at the dose-dependent physiological effects of sea lice on juvenile pink salmon.  Recently, she spent 2 days wandering in the Broughton Archipelago collecting the fish.  In her spare time, Amelia is still swimming with the UBC Masters Swim Club and she and Daniel get out camping and hiking when they get the chance.

Tanya Griffiths (née Wood) is no longer a student - for the first time in 24 years!  She defended her Ph.D. at UBC  in January 2006 and decided to “take a break” by packing up and moving to Calgary with Brett!  Tanya had a great time at UBC researching everything there was to know about “Hephaestin” and working with Ross MacGillivray.  She’s having an equally great time as a postdoc at U of C studying intestinal bacteria (especially Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis) and working with Kevin Rioux.  Tanya filled her spare time in Vancouver by singing and dancing with an amateur musical theatre group called “The Broadway Chorus”.  She performed 5 shows with them - it was so much fun getting to be everything from a nerdy cheerleader to a Grease wanna-be complete with 1950s garb!  Now in Calgary, she’s chomping at the bit to get back on stage, but hasn’t found the time nor the group yet.  Tanya and Brett still enjoy mountain biking and photography has become a passion of theirs - as well as fixing up their condo that they recently became proud owners of!  What does the future hold for Tanya?  If all goes well, hopefully medical school in September 2008!  She wants to send a special thank you to the VIU Biology Dept for providing so much support to their present and past students

Christa Hrabok went back to school in 2004at Royal Roads University to do an appliedMasters degree in Environment and Management.  She is almost finished, just needs to complete her thesis!  Last summer, she moved to Campbell River where she now lives with her guy - Greg.  She also very recently left her job with DFO at the PacificBiological Station to have an even further commute to Victoria!  Her new job is with the BC Government, Ministry of Environment in the Ocean and Marine Fisheries Division.  Christa i's mainly working with commercial and recreational shellfish fisheries but is also familiarwith all other coastal fisheries.  More recently, she hasbeen getting involved withthe National Marine Conservation Area and BC Marine Conservation Area planning committees.  Christa continues to compete in various paddling events.  The largest event was at the Edmonton Masters Summer Games 2 years ago.  FYI - you only have to be 30 to be a Master!! :)

Aaron Jex is still (or perhaps STILL!) in Australia.  He submitted his Ph.D. thesis on the nematode fauna parasitizing Australian burrowing cockroaches in August 2005 and was granted his Ph.D. from the University of Queensland in April 2006.  “Cockroach boy” (as he is sadly known to those who know him) moved to Melbourne in February of 2006 to undertake a postdoctoral position with Professor Robin Gasser at the University of Melbourne.  Aaron is primarily responsible for two areas of research.  One project is related to the water and food-borne parasitic protist Cryptosporidium.  The research project has two facets: one applied and one fundamental.  The applied facet relates to monitoring levels of Cryptosporidium in deer populations in urban water catchment areas around Melbourne, which present a potential risk to the cities’ drinking water due to the ability of the parasite to resist chlorination.  The fundamental aspect relates to applying a range of molecular methods to explore epidemiology and population genetics within Cryptosporidium.  This project has now been primarily handed over to a new Ph.D. student, Aradhana Pangasa, whose mind Aaron is now in charge of warping.  The second project involves amplifying and sequencing whole mitochondrial genomes of a range of nematode species in order to better understand the evolutionary history of the group as well as examine highly variable regions of DNA useful as population markers and to better understand models of gene rearrangement and gene duplication, two phenomena that occur at high frequency in nematodes.  (Tim’s note:  Aaron is the 2007 recipient of Malaspina’s Alumni Horizon award for outstanding achievement of a Malaspina alumnus, following in the footsteps of Alison Keple last spring and Chris Whipps in 2005).

After leaving Malaspina Dawn Locke moved to Calgary and was involved with strike research through the University of Calgary’s  Dept. of Neurology working under Dr. M. Hulliger.  “I then met my future husband and settled down in Calgary and had two wonderful boys -  Jacob (about to turn 6) and Gabriel (4).  We then moved to Waiparous, AB and I stayed at home and raised my boys and worked for the Cochrane Ecological Institute - Cochrane Wildlife Reserve doing wildlife rehabilitation; we conducted research on the different cuticular patterns of indigenous wildlife species, and  coordinated and ran the environmental educational programs.  I went to different schools and community groups giving interactive presentations on a variety of environmental issues.  We have recently moved back to the island and are now situated in Campbell River, where my husband is employed and I will be looking for work again in my field.  We are enjoying the island life very much once again after leaving the rat race”.

Tina Mitchell (nee McCann) moved over to the lower mainland with her husband Jason in the summer of 2005. This was a big move for Tina as it meant leaving her hometown of Nanaimo where she was born and raised as well as leaving her job of 5 years at the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC Fish Health Lab. Five months later the couple welcomed the birth of their first child Nathan Thomas Mitchell (now 16 months old). At this point in her career Tina has decided to hang up her lab coat in favour of her full time job as Nathan's mom. Although the hours are long and hard and it is the most challenging job she's ever undertaken the benefits are amazingand Tina's never been happier (she especially likes getting paid in hugs and kisses).Tina wishes all the Mal-U alumni well and wants to thank all the wonderful friends (students and faculty) she made during her years at Mal-U for all their support not just during her biology studies butthroughout the years since graduation!

2001 Graduates

Shannon Derksen defended her Master's thesis entitled "Semiochemical-mediated host selection behaviour by the Peachtree borer, Synanthedon exitiosa" at Simon Fraser University in April 2006 and attended convocation ceremonies in October 2006.  She is currently employed with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Burnaby as a multi-program inspector in the Plant Health Division.  A typical day involves traveling around the Lower Mainland to greenhouses, nurseries, lumber mills, warehouses and other facilities that handle plant-related commodities and inspecting them for pests.  Shannon is hoping to receive a promotion that she recently applied for, involving developing policy to prevent the spread and aid in the eradication of invasive alien species. When she's not working, Shannon spends time with her 3-year old daughter Jasmine, whose favourite things to do include playing soccer and playing 'pretend tea party'. 

Tanya Dunlop (nee Giesbrecht)is currently spending her days enjoying watchingfrogs and birds with her 9 month old daughter Brooke. In June, Tanya plans to return to the Ministry of Environment as an Ecosystems Biologist.

Tina Hein (nee Younker) has been busy since our last letter. She is still working at Pacific NorthWest Raptor in Duncan, flying birds and teaching folks about those fascinating birds of prey. This past year she decided to fly with the birds and so took up paragliding. Paragliding has brought her to some interesting places where she had her first tropical trip anywhere, paragliding in Hawaii! The day after her return from the islands she moved back to Nanaimo and is very glad to be "home". She is still happily married to Jeff and in fact the family is increasing by one this year with their first baby due at the end of September! Busy year for Tina! Tina is still found to be giggling with Tanya andboth girls get to Vancouver whenever possible to see the other little Tina in Vancouver. Hoping all is well with the rest of the alumni and perhaps we will all see each other soon!

Mike Russell is still a student – although at least in a different program finally!  Mike successfully defended his Ph.D. (mass spectrometric analysis of protein interactions with Karl Riabowol at the University of Calgary) in September 2006…and decided to celebrate by enrolling in medical school in Calgary.  Mike filled his spare time this past year writing his thesis (Multidimensional analysis of ING1 protein function), playing golf (not particularly well) and spending a few memorable weeks in England and Italy with wife Brionie (London-Milan-Florence-Rome).  If all goes well, Mike will finally be finished with class work next spring (at long last!) and head off into the wild, sterile teal-blue yonder as a wide-eyed clinical clerk (physician-in-training).  Mike sends a special hello to Dr. Allan Gibson, and to all VIU Biology faculty and alumni, and thanks them for their mentorship and support.

Liane Stenhouse (nee Orrey) has been working at the Pacific Biological Station for the past 5.5 years as a molecular genetics technician.  Her main responsibilities include DNA extraction, RNA extraction, robotics programming and maintenance.  Over the past two years, Liane and Shawn have enjoyed a couple trips to Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala.  “All were definately a biologist’s paradise with magnificent forests and wildlife”!

2002 Graduates

Nolan Hopwo is currently living in Calgary with his wife and brother while he is completing his Registered Nursing program at the University of Calgary.  He will graduate in Spring 2008 and hopes to work in the community nursing field.  Prior to that he worked with Fisheries and Oceans in Nanaimo, and also lived for six months as a volunteer in rural Ghana.

Jed Jackson is now the proud father of his new two month old sonAlexander John. Jed remains in Nanaimo, and since graduation has done a variety of things including working at the Casino, Military and contracts for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, particularly for the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat departments. Jed also went back to Malaspinato finish an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and wasin the first cohort to graduate from this program.Currently, Jed is employed as a GIS Coordinator/Environmental Analyst for MESL, an environmental consulting companyhere in Nanaimo, and has worked on a multitude of projects including an Oil Spill in Louisiana, remediation of the Great Lakes and most recently sewage treatment for Victoria. Presently, Jed is working towards a Masters in GIS and would like to augment this in the future with a Masters in aquatic biology (most likely with regards tonon-indigenous species). One day, Jed hopesto run an environmental counsulting company of his own.

Julie Newall is currently living in McLeese Lake, B.C. She is a stay-at-home mom of two children, Seth (Feb 2003) and Anika (May 2006). "I still peruse the job postings now and then to see what is out there, but for now I am content to raise my kids. They are so much fun. They get so excited when we arecatching grasshoppers and hunting for earthworms!"

Shawn Stenhouse has enjoyed working for Fisheries and Oceans for the past 5 years.  He is involved in many different aspects of the recreational fisheries including the sport salmonid head recovery and Cowichan River escapement programs.  Shawn and his wife Liane, recently went to Belize to check out what has changed since he last went with Malaspina in 2000 – still a beautiful part of the world!  About a year ago they bought a house across the street from Tim Goater in Lantzville.  “The neighbourhood has become a much cooler place now”!

Anna Tillery (nee Nelson) has recently moved back to Nanaimo after spending just over four years in Santa Cruz, California.  Anna “retired” from her job as a Biology Lab Technician and moved home last summer to take on the new challenge of becoming a mother.  Anna and her husband (and two Queensland Heelers) welcomed the new addition, a baby boy named Levi, on October 31, 2006.  At this point, Anna is not sure whether she will return to work or stay at home full time with her baby. “It’s a tough decision every mother has to make.  I’m sure if the right opportunity came up it would be hard to not go for it, but at the same time I don’t want to miss out on a single thing that happens in Levi’s life.”

Catherine Young is STILL working on her Ph.D. and sometimes helping out with teaching at Malaspina.  “My work involves studying immune responses of Chinook salmon to a parasitic infection, but some days the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that someday I might get to teach.  I’ve discovered that’s what I really love”.  Much more exciting news, though, is that she is getting married!  “Life is great these days; I’m really, really happy!”  She and Andy keep very busy with three kids, two cats, a dog, and two houses.  Cathy hopes that someday soon they might all be able to live in the same house!  Only one house to clean and one yard to care for seems like a dream.

2003 Graduates

Olle de Bruin is at the University of Victoria working on his Ph.D. in microbiology.  I am describing a type 6 secretion system whichwasone of the majordiscoveries in microbial pathogenesis last year. “Graduate school is pretty cool. Shout outs to all those I had the pleasure of meeting at Malaspina!”

Carrie Gummer is currently working as a technician in the molecular genetics lab at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.  She is also enjoying her new car, and looking forward to a trip to California as well as more traveling in the future.

Hitomi Kimura has been working for three years as a lab technician for the Biology Department at Malaspina.  “I have been having a fantastic time working here. I had several memorable events in 2006. The most significant event in my life was that I became a regular full-time faculty member in August. It was a great surprise for me and I felt a profound gratitude. During the summer, I was on a marine mammal research vessel with American researchers for 7 days and saw my first blue whale -  on the west coast of the Queens Charlotte Islands. I have never seen such a beautiful and magnificent animal in my life. My adrenaline skyrocketed on that special day! After this trip I attended our Geology Department’s field trip to the Burgess Shale with Tim and Eric, and encountered many invertebrate fossils. In October, I had the opportunity to see the spectacular sockeye salmon run at the Adams River. What a great year it was! I do not think that I could ask anything more. I am getting more and more exposed to fascinating biological events and enjoying everything very much”.

Louise Massey completed a Bachelor of Education degree, and has been working in School District 68. This year she was hired to teach at a new school in Nanaimo called Learn@Home 8-12. She has been teaching most of the Sciences and English 12 at this online high school. “It has been exciting and challenging to be in a position while a school is just starting out. I have also just started a Master's degree at UBC in Educational Technology. I am hoping to finish the degree by Christmas of 2008”.Tim’s note:  Louise has accepted a part-time position as an educational technologist at Malaspina.

2004 Graduates

Amanda Anderson has been in Victoria for the past year. She has been studying tree defense mechanisms and associated pathogens at the Pacific Forestry Centre. She has also been active in the surveillance of West Nile virus on Vancouver Island. In between contracts she has been busy traveling Australia and volunteering for Science World.

Jackie Churchill has spent the last two years in Winnipeg working on obtaining her M.Sc. in Soil Science from the University of Manitoba.  Her project was entitled “Spatial Dependency of Soil Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions in the Subarctic Environments of Churchill, Manitoba”.  She spent two summers in Churchill, Manitoba collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions, plant communities, and environmental and soil conditions, as well as trying to keep a safe distance from polar bears.  She is expecting to defend her M.Sc. in May 2007 and is currently back in Nanaimo looking for employment in the ecological field. 

Cole Diplock has spent the last two years at British Columbia Institute of Technology completing his B.Tech. in Environmental Health.  He is currently completing his second practicum working as an Environmental Health Officer in Nanaimo, as part of the Vancouver Island Health Authority. 

Lynne Henderson completed her M.Sc. in Applied Science at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS in June, 2007.  “My research explored how a highly mobile forest dependent species, the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), persists and uses remnant forest in an agriculturally dominated landscape.  I conducted my fieldwork on Prince Edward Island, where in the first year I searched the island trapping forest patches in search of the species and in the process completed the first systematic survey of the bat fauna on P.E.I.  My second field season involved radiotelemetry work where I attached miniature transmitters to female bats and followed their nightly movements in foraging and tracked them to their roost trees during the day.”  Highlights of Lynne’s time on the east coast have included working on a mark-recapture study of northern and southern flying squirrels in Nova Scotia, and acting as a consultant on projects in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia aimed at determining the potential effects of wind turbines on local bat populations.   Lynne married Alex Burns in the fall of 2004 and together they have enjoyed their time exploring the Maritimes over the past two years.  Lynne will return to Vancouver Island in the summer and hopes to get involved with bat research in beautiful British Columbia.

Jody Kary (née Koutecky) is back in school again after a couple of years in the working world. She was a Quality Assurance Food Technologist for Thrifty Foods based out of Victoria. She is currently completingthe Environmental Health After Degree Program at Concordia University College of Alberta in Edmonton. Since graduation from Mal in 2004, Jody has been busy! She has traveled a bit, to New Zealand for a month and to Mexico for a couple of weeks,andcan't wait for the next trip. Jody married Aaron Kary, her long time high school sweetheart in August of 2005, and they bought their first condo in Sidney(and boat) and have been renovating ever since!Jody will be back in Sidney in August, and home with her husband (finally!!!), and starting a practicum with the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Larissa Nelson is excited to be working in the Malaspina Biology Department as a laboratorytechnician (replacing Wendy Simms) for the upcoming year. “It will be a busy and fun year doing all that Wendy does, as well as keeping up with my field work on thimbleberry gall wasps and coordinating the activities of my three kids. My husband Kirk and I welcomed a surprise addition toour familytwo years ago– our lovely daughter, Elise."  Larissa had been previously working in Lake Cowichan as a tutor, a family support worker, running an after schoolscience program for kids and conducting research on problematic substance abuse among youth.

Lydia Rockwell completed her degree in 2004 and then took two years off of school. During that time she completed 18 months of volunteer work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In September 2006, she began her M.Sc. degree in Applied Science at Saint Mary's University.  Her research focuses on the bioaccumulation of PAHs and PCBs in biota from the Sydney Tar Ponds, in Nova Scotia.  She enjoys her project, because it allows her to combine her biology and chemistry backgrounds.

Soleil Switzer is currently working on her Master of Science degree at the University of British Columbia in association with the Centre for Shellfish Research (CSR) at Vancouver Island University.  Soleil’s research focuses on marine invertebrate community composition associated with shellfish aquaculture.  After graduation Soleil worked on a number of contract positions, but spent the last couple of years working as a lab technician in the Ecological Interactions Research Lab at the CSR.  Besides work she has also traveled to Africa, bought her first house and got married.  

2005 Graduates

Amanda Beerens was employed upon graduation as a Chemistry Lab Technician for Syncrude Canada in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  “After living in Alberta for awhile, I gained a newfound respect for the beauty Vancouver Island has to offer!” After returning to Nanaimo, she began finding jobs in a diversity of fields including working as a Geotechnical Engineering Technician, a Barista in a coffee shop, and as a Program Assistant for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, where she still works diligently as a volunteer.  More recently, she has been striving to gain more Biology experience through contract positions including working as an Aquatic Invasive Species Research Assistant for the Pacific Biological Station and as a Microbiology Research Assistant for Dr.’s John and Shirley Amaral in Malaspina’s Biology department and Centre for Shellfish Research on projects for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  In her spare time, Amanda volunteers in the Vancouver Island community as an Advanced Medical First Responder for St. John Ambulance as part of their brigade of volunteer Ambulance Attendants.  For summer 2007, Amanda is planning a trip to the States and wherever else a cheap plane ticket will take her.

Morgan Black took a break from studies and biology after graduating. She spent a year and a half helping run a tire business in Coombs. She also took on part-time work at Outsider-The Outdoor Store in Qualicum Beach last fall (basically for the staff discount!). As part of her New Year's resolution to get back into Biology, she launched a bat conservation campaign within the district by presenting free public lectures and information on bats and proper bat house construction. Public interest has exceeded expectations, and newspapers and conservation groups have requested her to give interviews and lectures. She joined Arrowsmith’s Naturalists Club and became secretary, and has also been asked to be the regional co-ordinator for FBCN (Federation of BC Naturalists), which will allow her to be sponsored to attend the FBCN Annual Gathering in Vernon in May. She is also training for triathlons and adventure racing, and will hopefully be competing in the 1/2 Ironman triathlon race in Victoria this summer. She also will be participating in the Great Walk, which is 63.5 km from Gold River to Tahsis in one day, to raise funds for her bat conservation project. Next year she hopes to be accepted into the new veterinary college that will be opening in the fall of 2008 at U of Calgary. To top it all off she has the cutest puppy in the world!

Carmen Mason got a job at Cantest in Burnaby in the Food Science Department in 2005. “I recently got promoted and am in charge of running an LCMSMS laboratory.  Our department tests food for antibiotics, as well as pesticides and other harmful chemicals. It's chemistry, but it is fun.”

Meaghan Mounce has finally moved away from Nanaimo! Meaghan spent two years after graduation working in the Biology field, doing contract work ranging from learning laboratory techniques, to how to clone trees, to digging for mollusks on the beach and picking up dead crows!  While she still loves biology, Meaghan has found her true passion is in fitness and health and has recently completed her Personal Training certification.  She is currently working at a fitness facility in Victoria and living with her boyfriend Deryk. Meaghan loves Victoria (besides all the rain and wind!!) and is finding her new career to be very rewarding and inspiring.  She plans on attending UVIC in September to further her studies in Kinesiology and will then see where things lead after that. Meaghan would like to thank all of the staff and students in the Biology program at Malaspina for being so helpful and inspiring. She couldn’t have asked for a better education. “I miss everyone a lot!”

Lindsay Rear is currently employed at Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd. in Whistler, BC, where she is kept busy with office administration and organization as well as environmental sampling for various projects.  She has also been involved with Environmental Site Assessments (Preliminary Site Investigations) and completing site profiles for potentially contaminated sites, and is also in the process of applying for her RPBio. Lindsay is also a new homeowner with Sandy Thompson, in the beautiful Pemberton valley where they live with son Caiden, enjoying mountain biking and snowboarding.

Sara Skotarek continues to be a student combining her love of horses with parasites! After graduation from VIU biology working with advisor Dr. Tim Goater she went on to graduate studies at the University of Lethbridge with his bother Dr. Cam Goater, in January 2006.  She is studying the prevalence and distribution of the horse tapeworm Anoplocephala perfoliata, as well as comparing current and new diagnostic techniques using the gold standard of necropsy.  Sara will be presenting her results at the American Society of Parasitologists annual meeting in Mexico this summer.  Teaching has been a really great experience for her and she hopes to do more in the future.  Her goal is to defend her M.Sc. in December 2007 and hopes to get a research assistant/teaching position at the new University of Calgary veterinary school (ie: take a break from 20 years of school!).  She continues to fill her spare time riding as many horses as possible.  Her newest edition is Hurley, an American Eskimo cross puppy that she has with her boyfriend, Kyle.  She has recently taken up hunting and gets to do a lot of fishing and camping in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.  The flatlands have been amazing so far, but she still misses the ocean and all the cool critters on the coast!

Holly St. Jean volunteered at the Pacific Biological Station (PBS) for a few months after graduation. She worked at CellFor Inc. in the research department in Victoria for a short time after that. Then she was offered a small 3-month contract at PBS.“Since then, I have been honing other latent skills – painting houses (inside and out), gardening, secretarial work – until I find more biology work. If I get work in Victoria, we will move to Duncan to accommodate Richard’s business here in Nanaimo. I have applied to both NAIT and BCIT for the medical lab technology programs, so we will see what happens on that front. I‘m not sure yet what the future holds for me, but I hope it is a biology job that is fulfilling”.

Alexander (Sandy) Thompson liked Malaspina so much that he spent the first year after graduation working at the Applied Environmental Research Lab in the math/chemistry building at Malaspina. During the summer of 2006 he moved with his girlfriend Lindsay Rear and his son Caidento Pemberton(north of Whistler). For the summer and fall they all worked as organic farmersgrowing and harvestingproduce. He is currently employed by the municipality of Whistler asthe lab technician at the wastewater treatment plant. The plant upgrade has given him thechance tolearnaboutwastewater treatment processes.He has been given the opportunity to designa new microbiology and chemistry lab that will be used to monitorthe treatment processes. Working inWhistler has also allowed Sandy to increase his knowledge and skill at snowboarding in alpine powder during the snowiest year on record! He hopesto set up aresearch facility that will seecollaborations with universitieson the microbiology and chemistry of wastewater treatment.

Upon graduation, Lianhong Yu moved to Burnaby to attend British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Currently I am finishing up my second year of the Radiation Therapy program, and I am so happy to say that in exactly a year I will be done my school. Hopefully after I finish this program, I can find a job as a Radiation Therapist at the Victoria Cancer Center so that we can move back to Vancouver Island. I have a lovely daughter named Ariel. At present, Ariel goes to Kindergarten at Douglas Road Elementary School in Burnaby, and she is doing very well. My husband Gerald who is a 3D visual effects artist just finished working on a movie called Blades of Glory (currently in theaters), and he is looking forward to working on another project very soon.  In May, we are planning to have our first family vacation for the last 6 years - a trip to Disneyland.  Finally, I would very much like to thank the Malaspina Biology program for providing me with a greatopportunity to be taught by such knowledgeable professors.

2006 Graduates

Skye Creba started a M.Sc. in environmental analytical chemistry in January. She was the recipient of a Canadian Graduate Scholarship from NSERC and is using it to do her research in the Applied Environmental Research Labs at Malaspina (through UVic).  She is really enjoying her research and not having to work while going to school for the first time in her life! Constantly on the move, Skye and her fiancé Claud are moving back to Nanaimo from Comox, and Skye is extremely excited to not be commuting anymore! They are both enjoying the island life escaping to play in the surf or snow whenever they get the chance.  The work she did for her undergraduate independent research project in chemistry (CHEM 490) just officially turned into a paper, published in the Journal of the American Society of Mass Spectrometry J. (Tim’s note:  Skye has recently been accepted into the Faculty of Medicine at University of Calgary.  We all know what an outstanding physician Skye will make!)

Stefan Iwasawa completed his Certificate in International Proficiency after graduation and then made his way to Japan for a month to take part in his brother’s wedding. He spent the summer months as he has for the past nine years at summer camp employed as a program worker. From there he took the plunge and headed down to New Zealand in search of work and travel. After taking it easy and traveling around for the first few weeks he set up shop and began working at Auckland’s Dolphin and Whale Safari taking tourists out onto the water. January saw a lot of changes as Stefan not only secured a job at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute but he also got engaged to Sonja Bay. They intend on returning sometime in the next year or two to tie the knot. He would like to thank all the staff and students at Malaspina for the wonderful experience. He would like to wish the best of luck to all the gang out there, and if anyone is down in New Zealand or planning on going, there is always a spare room.

After completing both her anthropology and biology degrees (crazy kid!) at Malaspina, Nadine Simpson became the program coordinator and lead interpreter for the Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Society museum in Telegraph Cove, joyfully performing necropsies on available wildlife (the highlight being a young elephant seal and boiling the seal penis for the baculum), and informing the public about marine life and conservation.  In the fall she continued her obsession with education by teaching first nation high school students’ math and science; “warping young minds is fun”!

After graduating from Malaspina, Owen Stechishin had an enjoyable summer in the MALU Chemistry Department’s Applied Environmental Research Laboratory (AERL), continuing his research on disinfection byproduct formation during water chlorination. “In the fall, I used an NSERC Canada Graduate scholarship, to relocate to Calgary and began my Ph.D. at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the U of Calgary.  In my thesis, I am studying brain tumor stem cells and their role in the development and growth of gliomas.  The graduate program at the U of C has definitely kept me busy, but has also been very interesting and a lot of fun”.

After graduating from Malaspina and being awarded an NSERC Canada Graduate scholarship, Derek van Pel began graduate studies in the Master's program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC. He is working in the laboratory of Dr. Phil Hieter, and has been able to immediately apply technical experience gained from his 491 project, as both his 491 project and current Master's project heavily rely on mammalian tissue culture. "It's great that the experience I gained at Malaspina doing my 491 research, even though it was a completely different project, gave me skills transferable to my current project". With classes drawing to a close for the year, Derek is very much looking forward to spending more time in the lab and getting great results in the coming summer!

Jennifer Waller has spent the last two years starting millions of seeds and managing an extensive greenhouse operation in Courtenay.  She has been accepted into the M. Sc. degree program in insect – plant ecology, starting in September, 2007 at the University of Alberta.  However, before school starts she is currently traveling all over Europe for five months. “I plan to check out some of the European Universities and as many museums as possible, especially the insect collections."

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