We are a group of freshwater ecologists from the Biology Department at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota studying the effect of temperature and nutrient availability on metabolism and nitrogen fixation in geothermally active streams in the Hengill region of Iceland. This is a collaborative research effort with our partners from Montana State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Iceland, and the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries in Iceland. See links to our collaborators labs below.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fixation and Beyond

Greetings all! I am back -- what an honor! I think about my aquatic ecology family often -  I miss them. Many exciting and empowering things have happened since my last post.

Following graduation from St. Kate's in December 2015, I took a one-way flight to Orlando, Florida to start a Professional Internship at EPCOT (yes, that's one of the parks at Walt Disney World!) in their biotechnology lab. My Fixation on Ice research experience, including the knowledge I gained as well as the inspiration, creativity, and problem-solving skills, has helped me succeed in this position! Responsibility was cultivated very early on in my research at St. Kate's, but also continuously developed and deepened as my work progressed throughout the project. Today, I alone run the Disney sector of the biotechnology lab. I have responsibility for nearly 1,000 plant-tissue cultures. Self-motivation and individuality have also been key attributes that have helped me to achieve record breaking plant-tissue sales and to develop innovative biotechnological procedures in our lab. Self-motivation and the ability to set both individual and group goals, which I derived from my Fixation on Ice experience, have allowed me to advance the efficiency of the laboratory practices here at Disney.

So what is it like to work with the Walt Disney World company? It's epic and dynamic! I spend about 75% of my day-to-day activities in the lab. Our lab is completely visible to guests at Walt Disney World.  In fact, there is a boat ride that runs right outside our lab 12-hours per day, 7 days a week! The remaining 25% of my time is split between weekly meetings, classes, show quality boat rides (yes, it is part of my job to go on a ride!) and Behind the Seeds tours, which are interactive and guided walking tours where we take guests into our laboratories, aquaculture facility, and greenhouses.

What is my favorite part of this position? I love the lab work, which involves tissue-culture propagation of a variety of plants. I work alongside USDA scientists and get to learn about and participate in their plant pathogenesis research, which is very exciting. I think my absolute favorite part of this position is its focus on scientific communication.  I have the opportunity to talk about science and biotechnology with our guests each and every day.  Thousands of visitors take our Living with the Land boat ride through the greenhouses and labs. The tours I guide are so fulfilling. Guests are absolutely amazed and inspired to learn about innovative and sustainable agricultural practices that can help feed families, communities, nations - and feed our world.

What's next? I recently accepted a position in the Professional Program in Biotechnology Master's Degree program at Texas A&M University. I will be beginning this journey in the fall and I can hardly wait! My focus will be in agricultural biotechnology with an emphasis in business.