Jessica Jang

JJangName: Jessica Jang

Lab webpage:

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Undergrad: Bachelor of Science in Aquatic Fishery and Science, University of Washington, 2010.

Work experience before MLML:  I was a lab apprentice at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. Making gels and using trypsin digestion protocols was my game. Field intern for Wild Fish Conservancy surveying juvenile salmon and other fish species for habitat restoration projects in Grays Harbor County.

 Q: Why did you decide to pursue marine science?

Since I was child I was always interested in the oceans, it also helped that I was born in Hawaii, so I could not ignore the big blue wilderness even if I wanted to. When I was two, my parents moved to Seattle, and would take me to the Seattle Aquarium every week. They would spend countless hours with me wandering through the exhibits and noting the amazing creatures that call the ocean their home. My father also took the family to go clam-digging, crabbing, fishing, and whale watching. Having the family interested in the oceans and being involved in marine recreational events inspired me at that young of an age to become a marine biologist.

 Q: What experiences and opportunities have shaped your path to get you where you are now?

Luckily, at the University of Washington, we had the School of Aquatic Fisheries program (SAFs) which focused on freshwater but also saltwater systems. The department itself also encouraged their fishery students to take oceanography classes to broaden their knowledge about the oceans. For me I was more focused being in a laboratory-oriented environment, and had the opportunity of being a lab apprentice at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute during my sophomore year of college. However, I did not enjoy being in a lab as much, as I enjoyed conversing to the public about my research. Which is why I applied to be an aquarium volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium, which I loved, but I was feeling I was missing something? After graduating in 2010, I found out what I was missing. Field work! I was able to become a research intern for the Wild Fish Conservancy and participate in collecting data while getting wet and muddy was the last component. I finally had the opportunity to be able to enjoy being a fish biologist. After that sampling season, I also volunteered in the lab at the Seattle Aquarium conducting hormone assays and DNA analysis.

 Q: What are you studying and why is it interesting and important to you?

I am interested in looking at multiple paternity of big skates (Beringraja binoculata, Girard 1855). Currently there’s only two species that are known to have more than one embryo in an egg case, the mottled skate (Beringraja pulchra) is the other species. I want to know if the females are selectively choosing the males may result in how the embryos are sired, and if there are such methods, what are the implications for protecting this species.

 Q: What are you hoping or planning to do when you finish?

I plan on either working for NOAA or some academic institution and continue my research using genetic markers to identify endangered skates, rays, and sharks, in the markets, hopefully still have the motivation and the funding to pursue a PhD, and getting a certification in scientific illustration.

 Q: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of graduate school?

Deciding on my thesis was very challenging because there were lot topics I wanted to learn about, but I wasn’t sure how feasible it is. However, when your advisor is someone like Dave Ebert, who’s been in your shoes, helps a lot. He asked me what I was interested in and quickly narrowed down the topics that suited me.

 Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get in to marine science?

Get involved with scientists in the field, read papers, ask questions, and definitely volunteer! Scientists too, started with just only an interest, but once you get the connections and volunteer, it opens up just new opportunities for you!

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