"As soon as I discovered that I could make a career out of studying fish, I immediately became obsessed with becoming a marine biologist."

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Student Profile: Kennedy Bolstad

Biological Sciences Master's student in the Faculty of Science

December 16, 2020
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As soon as I discovered that I could make a career out of studying fish, I immediately became obsessed with becoming a marine biologist.  This led me to complete my Honours Marine Ecology degree at the University of Victoria where I examined the use of underwater video in understanding forage fish nearshore habitat use.  Through an internship with the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), I studied reproductive markers in female Pacific halibut, and this opened my eyes to the different ways that fish research can be approached.  Since that internship I have developed an increasing interest for integrating marine ecology with physiology and molecular biology.  This led me to complete an NSERC USRA with Dr. Novales Flamarique in the summer of 2020 and an MSc. in the same lab, which I started September of 2020.  

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

While presenting my summer research with the IPHC at the PICES 2019 conference, I saw a talk given by Dr. Novales Flamarique and instantly became enthralled with using fish for opsin research.  I knew I had to apply for an MSc. in this lab!

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

For visual organisms to have maximum fitness in a particular environment, their visual system needs to be tuned for their habitat requirements.  Flatfish are very interesting because their pelagic larval stage and their benthic juvenile/ adult stage is separated by a very dramatic metamorphosis.  With this change of environment comes a change in light regime and a potential need for visual tuning.  Opsins are proteins that play a key part in this visual tuning, and I am interested in the mechanisms that control their expression in flatfish. 

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The chance to spend significant time on independent research has been the highlight of my MSc. at SFU so far.  There are so many research questions that can come out of my thesis work that I could spend an eternity exploring them!

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?

I received the NSERC CGS Master’s Scholarship, which has given me a “running start” for my graduate studies.

Contact Kennedy: kbolstad@sfu.ca