Jillian Arany talks about third year

A day in the life

Jillian Arany talks about third year

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After learning in all these courses, you get such a big perspective on things that need to be changed, things that affect ecosystems that you never thought about before—and you just think, wow.

Putting learning into practice

When Jillian Arany, from Ottawa, Ontario, was accepted into Dalhousie’s Marine Biology program, her friends said, “‘Finally, you’re doing it—you’ve been talking about it since grade 7!’” Jillian laughs.

Now in her third year of a Bachelor of Science with a major in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Science, Jillian is hoping to pursue a career in coral reef conservation.

“One strategy for the Great Barrier Reef is to turn it into a marine protected area,” she says. “But it’s affected by global warming, so it’s a world issue, not just a local one. Even a one-degree temperature change can have a huge effect on corals. We need to find out what’s causing the most damage to them.”

“I just really like them,” Jillian says first to explain her interest in coral reefs. But then she adds, “It’s incredible how diverse the reefs are—and there are over 1,000 species of coral. Open your eyes for three seconds underwater and you’ll see hundreds.”

This term, she’s taking Physiology of Marine Animals, Marine Ecology, Genetics, Environmental Science, and Environmental Problem solving. “Marine Ecology is my favourite, but Environmental Problem Solving is neat too.”

“I really like the third-year program,” Jillian says. “All the courses are about marine ecosystems and the oceans’ functions, which is why I’m enjoying them so much.”

Courses also provide opportunities to get out and explore the shoreline and the water. “We went on a field trip to Sandy Cove,” Jillian says, “to collect data on seaweed and animal diversity. It was fun, even though it rained. We used a quadrat to isolate and identify samples—both mobile and sessile species, like mussels and barnacles.”

She’s already tried her hand at a marine conservation job—though it had nothing to do with corals. “This summer, I worked in Newfoundland for Environment Canada doing sea- and land-bird conservation,” she says. “I loved it—it was so much fun! Job experience related to conservation will be good for my future.”

Jillian adds that she primarily worked on taking “a huge census of puffins. I had to stick my hands in holes in the cliff and feel around for puffins,” she smiles, “both eggs and adults. It was cool to put stuff I was learning in class into practice.”