What opportunities await COASST Interns after graduation? This week, we had the opportunity to catch up with Sophie Pierszalowski (COASST Intern, 2008).
Since graduating with a B.S. in Biology and Aquatic and Fisheries Science (2010), Sophie pursued work a marine mammal genetics lab at NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center and conducted research on humpback and fin whales with the Gulf of Alaska Apex Predator-Prey Project through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
After those two big breaks, she had another: digging into a recently uncovered whaling catch logbook from Port Hobron, Alaska (SE side of Kodiak Island), starting in the 1920s. In addition to that, what occupies all her time? “Analysis and writing to finish my MSc,” says Sophie, now with Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Sophie’s research involves looking at Humback Whale genetics (who is related to who? is there lots of mixing? or are they all from the same “small town”?) population structure (old ones? young ones? some middle-aged?) and feeding ecology (what do they eat? where do they eat?) in Southeast Alaska, especially whales in Glacier Bay National Park).
After she knocks off all that, we had a a feeding ecology question or our own: where will Sophie be next? Chowing on fresh-caught seafood in Kodiak Alaska? Unwrapping an energy bar at a trailhead in the Cascades? Wherever she forages, we hope she stops by to nibble off the COASST office brownie plate soon!