This scientist is taking a global jellyfish tour to discover mucus and medusae

This scientist is taking a global jellyfish tour to discover mucus and medusae

From a number of the largest jellyfish on this planet in Japan to the tiny venomous Irukandji in Australia, UBC doctoral pupil Jessica Schaub is about to set off on a global tour of jellyfish.

A doctoral pupil within the division of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences and the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Schaub will discover jellyfish blooms, large teams of the floating ‘medusae’ in Japan, France, Argentina, and Australia, due to a Hugh Morris Fellowship. An Indigenous scientist, Schaub hopes her journey will encourage Indigenous youth to think about careers in science.

What’s a ‘medusa’?

Jellyfish even have two varieties. One is the floating, pulsating creature that everybody is aware of, referred to as a medusa. The opposite is a tiny polyp that lives connected to the bottom. Medusae and polyps have the identical DNA, in order that they’re successfully clones. Massive teams of medusae are often called blooms, which happen seasonally alongside the world’s coastlines. These blooms may cause financial and ecological hardships, together with when fishers catch jellyfish as an alternative of fish. Curiously, polyps decide the success of blooms, equivalent to their measurement, however analysis into these tiny creatures is scarce.

Throughout my journey, I’ll journey to France and Argentina, to study polyp analysis from a number of the few present specialists, whereas additionally experiencing a number of the impacts of blooms in Japan and Australia. My travels are funded by a Hugh Morris Fellowship, administered by the Kimberley Basis, which permits Canadian graduate college students researching a precedence space associated to earth sciences to “undertake a program of self-guided journey and experiential studying.”

This scientist is taking a global jellyfish tour to discover mucus and medusae

Moon jellyfish polyps grown at UBC, scale bar is 1 mm. Credit score: Jessica Schaub.

What are you doing with mucus, vacationers, and venomous jellyfish in Australia? 

I’ll be observing a mission on the Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth, Australia. This reef attracts about 40,000 vacationers annually in the course of the whale shark migration, which sadly usually coincides with the looks of harmful Irukandji jellyfish. These jellyfish are tiny and troublesome to see, however their sting could be very highly effective and has been deadly in some instances.

To guard vacationers, researchers from the Authorities of Western Australia and Griffith College’s Sea Jellies Analysis Lab are working collectively to develop a sort of speedy take a look at utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) to pattern the water previous to sending vacationers out for swims. This speedy take a look at would decide if Irukandji jellyfish are current primarily based on the mucus they launch into the water that might be detected by way of DNA. The upper the extent of mucus, the extra Irukandji are within the water, and the extra harmful it’s for vacationers to swim.

What do you hope the journey will imply to Indigenous youth?

Indigenous individuals are underrepresented in science, expertise, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields as a consequence of many obstacles, each historic and modern. For instance, Indigenous methodologies are sometimes disregarded as rigorous science, regardless of providing various and infrequently complementary approaches to deal with joint points. These Indigenous views, like many different views, are crucial in STEM since they provide new methods to method issues.

I feel illustration is without doubt one of the key ways in which we will shift the narrative and encourage Indigenous youth to pursue STEM careers, so I attempt to be open and trustworthy in regards to the optimistic and detrimental points of my journey as a scientist. I hope that by sharing my story, younger individuals can relate and see themselves as scientists too. This journey will permit me to focus on most of the issues I like about science – studying, collaboration, journey, and new experiences – and I hope this shall be interesting to these contemplating a profession in STEM.

Observe Jessica’s adventures and science by way of her Instagram and TikTok.

Interview language(s): English (Schaub)

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