" I decided to choose SFU to pursue my dream of becoming a marine scientist due to its renowned experts in my field of study along with its location on the west coast."

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Sandra Jaskowiak

June 11, 2024

Biological Sciences master's student in the Faculty of Science

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I am passionate about marine biology, learning about the underwater world, and most importantly ocean conservation. I completed my undergraduate degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Guelph and my curiosity was immediately consumed by the marine world. This curiosity and love inspires me to dedicate my life's work to understanding and protecting the world’s incredible oceans along with the creatures that call it home.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

I decided to choose SFU to pursue my dream of becoming a marine scientist due to its renowned experts in my field of study along with its location on the west coast. I connected with Dr. Tanya Brown and was fortunate enough to be offered a place in her lab studying marine mammal ecotoxicology. Tanya's enthusiasm and encouragement made her lab at SFU feel like the perfect fit for me on my academic journey.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

The effects of climate change combined with local sources of mercury contamination from industrial activities are causing significant changes in Arctic ecosystems. The associated negative effects may be putting ringed seals and Inuit communities at risk. My research will use the claws and whiskers of ringed seals to track changes in diet and mercury accumulation over time. This project will inform policies aimed at protecting important species and habitats at risk. Results will also have wider relevance to communities and policymakers across Northern Canada.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Marine Ecotoxicology, Ringed Seals, Mercury

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

Completing an undergraduate Co-op degree was an invaluable opportunity to integrate my academic learning with hands-on job experience. Through working in labs at the University of Guelph, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, I developed countless skills in organization, collaboration, leadership, self-motivation, time management, communication, scientific literacy, and more. Additionally, completion of an independent research project along with volunteering in various labs and research diving expeditions allowed me to gain research skills which ultimately led me to falling in love with the scientific process. Through these experiences, I decided to continue my path in academia.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

I was fortunate enough to be awarded NSERC-CGS-M to begin my masters degree here at SFU. I was also awarded the Morwick Undergraduate Summer Research Assistantship in Aquatic Biology during my undergraduate degree in support of the conservation and protection of water resources through research contributions in the Adamowicz lab. In addition, I was awarded the Farzom Rad Memorial Scholarship, Gaskin Medal, and Keith Ronald Undergraduate Scholarship for high academic achievement in the Marine and Freshwater Biology program.


Contact Sandra:sandra_jaskowiak@sfu.ca

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