Internships, field schools all at sea
Christine Konrad, who is the recipient of the 2014 Governor General’s Silver Medal, has just returned from two weeks at sea, studying sperm whales in the Galapagos Islands.
The Burnaby resident credits all the time she spent at her family’s cottage on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast for her love of marine biology.
“My first couple years at SFU, I was fairly sure I wanted to pursue biology, though I did take electives ranging from fine art to astronomy to explore my options,” says Konrad.
“Taking a field course at Bamfield (a marine sciences centre on Vancouver Island), however, helped solidify my decision that research in marine biology was what I wanted to pursue.”
Through volunteer work with the SFU research community on invasive marine species and the effects of climate change on B.C.’s frogs, she has developed a particular interest in marine ecology and conservation.
Her work on sea-star population genetics in an undergraduate research course contributed to a paper that has been accepted for publication inEvolution.
She also completed an honours project examining the disconnect between the rates of ocean warming used in climate change experiments relative to those projected by climate models.
“Receiving the medal is an extraordinary honour,” says Konrad, who finished her undergraduate degree with a 4.27 grade-point-average out of a possible 4.33. “It also makes me exceedingly grateful for all the people—from family and friends to my supervisors and profs—who have encouraged, supported and instructed me along the way, to help me accomplish what I have at SFU.”
Konrad also spent a semester abroad at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji to diversify her knowledge of marine ecosystems and conservation strategies. Her courses took her on field trips to reefs and to small Fijian villages where she experienced the South Pacific culture.
Studying and research weren’t Konrad’s only SFU pastimes, however. She founded the SFU Quidditch Sports Club. Quidditch is a unique team sport from the popular Harry Potter books, featuring broomsticks and balls.
The next step for Konrad a master’s program at Dalhousie University in Halifax where she will study whale social structure.
Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.
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