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Life of a lumpfish

Graduate student video up for national NSERC prize

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

A video by a Memorial graduate student is in the running for a national contest.

Science, Action! is a video contest organized by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It challenges post-secondary students to film a 60-second video of NSERC-funded research about the people, research and innovations that are transforming the way Canadians live and work.

Zoe Zrini is a marine biology master’s student at the Ocean Sciences Centre at Memorial. Her video – Life of a Lumpfish Under Pressure – is one of 40 chosen to go forward for public voting. Watch the video below.

“Research about the biological effects of hydrostatic pressure (being in the deep sea) is very limited,” she said.

“In the past, it has been difficult to answer these types of questions. At the Cold Ocean Deep Sea Research Facility (at the OSC), the availability of the IPOCAMP chamber to study animals at depth has the potential to expand an entire field of biology.”

After graduating from the University of Guelph in 2017 with a zoology degree, Ms. Zrini moved to Newfoundland and Labrador to study the physiology of fish species on Canada’s East Coast.

In her graduate research, she is using data storage tags to record valuable environmental and biological information, such as heart rate and activity, from salmon and lumpfish.

“When my family tells me that they understand the video, and even start asking about my results, I know I have successfully explained my research!” – Zoe Zrini

But why focus on lumpfish?

“It was recently discovered that they can be found as deep as 1,000 metres in the ocean and can swim greater than 300 metres in a single day,” she said. “It’s a pretty impressive feat from an unexpected species!”

Ms. Zrini says she was made aware of the contest last year when another graduate student at Memorial, Jenna MacKinnon, entered and won for her research concerning the Arctic.

Lumpfish tagging
Implanting a tag into a lumpfish.
Photo: Submitted

She’s also been previously involved in another scientific research video when she was a student in Guelph and believes being involved in research videos is a fantastic opportunity to communicate science to a larger audience.

“Scientific outreach can be very challenging, but as a young scientist it is an essential skill to explain biology, research objectives and my results in an exciting way,” said Ms. Zrini.

“When my family tells me that they understand the video, and even start asking about my results, I know I have successfully explained my research!”

Making the cut

The 25 videos with the most views by March 27 will proceed to a judges’ panel, where they will compete for one of 15 cash prizes, including a top prize of $3,500.

From those finalists, six entries – three in English and three in French – will be selected as the final winners. The videos will be judged for quality, creativity and clarity. Ms. Zrini hopes her video will make the cut.

“My goal is to present my master’s research at the Society of Experimental Biologists (SEB) annual conference in Spain this upcoming July,” she said.

“SEB is an international organization that helps to connect scientists researching experimental biology. Even with the conference funding through the university, this conference is expensive and any success with the NSERC contest would help offset the cost of attending the conference.”

To find out find out more about the competition, or which videos proceed to the judges’ panel, follow NSERC on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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