Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Collin Lab Internship

By Rowshyra Castaneda

Ricciardi Lab
Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal

I'm Rowshyra, I have a B.Sc. in biology and recently completed my M.Sc. at McGill University.  I had the opportunity to study in Panama through the Panama Field Study Semester (PFSS), a field-based course run by McGill University and STRI.  The program is made up of 26 McGill students and four Panamanian students who travel across the country absorbing and appreciating everything it has to offer.  Besides the course/field work, which includes environmental history, neotropical biology and sustainable tropical agriculture (that all students must take together), we each had to complete an internship with a Panamanian institution (NGO, governmental, or research).  I was fortunate to work in the Collin Lab through STRI.

I got to work on a neat project with my internship partner, Maura.  We looked at the effects of water temperature on the reproduction in an intertidal snail (Crepidula marginalis). This project required us to go into the field and collect snails from the intertidal zone, which was not an easy task. Thankfully, we had a great lab tech, Maricela, with us, who had an amazing talent for finding them.  Each rock I turned over I collected only one or two snails, whereas Maricela would be picking off about a dozen.

Rowshyra collecting marine snails at Playa Venado in Veracruz Panama!

Hunting for Crepidula in the intertidal zone

Despite our failure at being efficient snail hunters, we did have fun looking at the different organisms hiding under rocks and between crevices.  The sponges and flatworms added flashes of brilliant and diverse colours, while the barnacles and snails added texture and structure; this makes the ecosystem so unique and beautiful. 

Cool critters under a rock

Adult Crepidula marginalis, C. lessonii and other inverts

Other then the research and report we completed, we also made a video describing our research to add to the lab's Youtube page.  Maura was a natural and flawlessly described our project, while I, being super shy had to retake every scene.  Although we found our video to be quite a success in the end (over 1000 views!), we have some tough Youtube critics (5 likes, 7 dislikes), looks like I won't be making it big on the big screen!

My experience in the Collin lab and in Panama was amazing.  Every part of our project from collecting snails on the beach to living in Panama City was unforgettable. 

Now, check out the YouTube video we made and maybe send us a few more "likes"! 


  1. Nice Post Rowshyra! I mean, I knew most of that already but it's good to know you are doing fine ;). Also your video is now balanced, I'm sure you'll reach positive ranking soon!


    1. Haha! Thanks Paul. I really like your blog entries. I love mayflies too :) I did my Master's on benthic invertebrates. Looks like we can't get enough of them :) I'm glad you're doing well!!