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Elephants, fish, birds and water – exciting internships on offer in Biology


Nipissing is famous for going the extra mile for students to ensure their experience at university is as rewarding and satisfying as it is valuable.  For students studying in the department of biology and chemistry, that dedication is clearly illustrated in the opportunities offered through internship courses. Every year, the department helps students with passionate career ambitions gain hands-on experiential learning in their chosen fields with internship courses. The possibilities are endless; internships take place in foreign countries and in hometowns, in sites ranging from hospitals and veterinary clinics to environmental consulting agencies and remote research sites.

“Some of these internship opportunities make me want to go back to school for another degree in biology,” jokes Dr. Dave Hackett, assistant professor in the department of biology and chemistry. “In our department, student success is very important and we work to provide customized internship opportunities.  Often, a student comes to university with a plan in mind, thinking ‘I want to be a Veterinarian of Exotic Animals’ or I’d like to work as a Marine Biologist’. With internships and some of our other specialty courses, we can provide them with training that will give them a real advantage in their chosen fields.”

Katie Britton, currently in her fourth-year, recently interned at the Elephant
Nature Park and Animal Rescue Kingdom, near Chiang Mai in Thailand. There she learned a valuable set of veterinary skills while working with animals that ranged in size from elephants, to horses, goats and chickens, as well as family pets like cats and dogs. She learned how to give physical examinations, perform blood and fecal analysis, deal with parasites, tend to wounds, deliver medication, read X-ray images, assist with anesthesia, and many other skills associated with maintaining the health of a broad range of animals. Upon returning to Nipissing University, Britton has applied her animal-related knowledge to her thesis research project on feeding special proteins to chicks while they are still developing in their eggs.  This work will be a boon to the poultry industry. After graduating this June, she plans to attend Veterinary school – armed with high marks and a long list of relevant skills.

Hope Lelieveld developed a strong curiosity about marine biology while participating in a Nipissing University Biology Field Camp in Newfoundland. She jumped at the possibility of learning more about the field though an internship opportunity at Newfoundland’s Bonne Bay Marine Biology Station. There she collected marine life for the station, learned about the health needs of captive marine species, gave tours, prepared displays, and educated the public while gaining experience with ocean ecosystems, east coast boats, huge saltwater tanks, and the marine scientists she worked with every day. Lelieveld is currently at NU expanding her aquatic expertise by engaging in directed studies research about the chemical alarm cues of fish and how fish can use smell to avoid predators. She plans to apply for graduate studies in Marine Biology after graduation.

Nicole Richardson is an avid birder who chose to spend her internship experience at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Centre near Temiskaming Shores assisting the avian research projects. She gained experience in many skills such as mist-netting birds, bird-banding, identifying birds by sight and sound, assessing the age and health of birds, dealing with injuries and parasites, attracting birds with sounds, collecting and managing data, and educating the public.  Armed with these valuable skills, Richardson has spent the past half-year assisting avian research projects on the James Bay coast, in Hawaii, and in Australia. She will return to Nipissing University this winter to finish her fourth-year courses. After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate school so that she can design and perform her own research projects looking into the behaviour and conservation of birds.

Katelyn Kuzmich has strong environmental interests, particularly about water quality and water pollution. She spent her internship working under the direction of the senior facilities and environmental engineer for the sanitation department of the City of North Bay. Kuzmich gained experience at both the North Bay Drinking Water Treatment Plant and the Wastewater Treatment Plant, developing skills like monitoring water quality in the field and in the lab, running a variety of chemical tests, and inputting/analyzing data about water quality parameters.  In addition to learning about the practical aspects of these topics, she also worked on a thesis research project investigating the water-cleansing properties of the ‘constructed-wetlands’ sewage lagoons in Callander, Ontario.  Kuzmich is keen about pursuing water-related topics and a career in this field, once she returns from a half-year of travel in Australia.

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