Student Research Profile: Sean Richards

Here at PUC, biology students have countless opportunities to get involved with research, oftentimes working alongside professors on projects. Programs are specially curated to not only prepare students academically but also to equip them with real-world experience for success in future endeavors.

Here’s one student’s experience and how they feel PUC helped prepare them.

Who are you?

I am Sean Richards, and I am a senior biology major. I plan to go on to graduate school in marine biology to specialize in invertebrate conservation.

What did you do?

I participated in a research trip with Dr. Hayes to study the commensal associations between different species of urchins, invertebrates, and fish. During this time, I was responsible for taking photos as well as counting urchin individuals, with and without associating organisms.

When and where did you do this work?

This research opportunity took place in January 2019 off the coasts of Cabo San Lucas, in the Gulf of California.

What did you learn?

I learned an immense amount on this trip. Though swimming in a wetsuit for multiple hours in a day can be tiring, it is well worth the effort. I saw several species of pufferfish, pipefish, and eels I had only read about or seen in captivity up until that point. It was also interesting to peek into each crevice to find different species hiding within the urchin’s spines for protection. From this, I learned much about underwater photography, the collection of density measurements, as well as the resources available for fish/invertebrate identification.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?

The classes immediately come to mind for me are those of General Biology, Ecology, and Marine Biology. From these classes, I learned an enormous amount about the writing of scientific papers, animal anatomy, as well as the mindset goes into doing this kind of research. Also, students at PUC are lucky enough to have a department that routinely offers research opportunities in a variety of areas.

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