Waking up at 4am isn’t for everyone, but for junior Ahmani Browne, it’s one of the best parts of his day.
Ahmani, who studies marine biology at Mitchell, is taking part in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, a collaboration between Mystic Aquarium and the University of Connecticut (UConn) Avery Point, funded by the National Science Foundation.
From June to August, he is spending most of his days in the lab at UConn Avery Point doing research and experiments. He goes to Mystic Aquarium for professional development activities, seminars, job shadows and, at the end of his internship, his poster presentation on his research.
“My favorite part of my internship is having to wake up early in the morning at low tide to collect fucus (seaweed) and nucella (snails) to run our experiments. The experiment I am working on looks at the effects that green crabs, the predators, have on snails, the prey. We set up containers with some snails exposed to a crab and some not. I record data to see if the exposed snails are hiding or eating less.”
Ahmani works at least 40 hours per week at his internship, ensuring that the experiments run smoothly and data is collected and entered into digital files. Over the course of his internship, he has put many of the transferrable skills he has learned at Mitchell to work.
“I interact regularly with other lab members to communicate what work needs to be done and sometimes use critical thinking to fix an experiment if something goes wrong. I also had to sum up my experiment clearly and concisely for a post on the Mystic Aquarium Instagram page.”
Coming into the internship, Ahmani was unsure about the process of doing independent research.
“I haven’t done independent research before, so I wasn’t clear how I would tackle it. After working more and more each day on it, I have gotten the hang of it by asking the necessary questions to help with my progress.”
Through his internship, Ahmani has realized that he wants to continue on to graduate school after Mitchell to do more research and conduct his own experiments.
Hailing from the Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda, Ahmani considers Mitchell College a home away from home.
“Coming from a small island, I was drawn to Mitchell for its proximity to the beach and my interest in marine biology on the East Coast. With the small community and personal connections, the professors, staff and peers push you to be the best person you are and help with any challenges you face.”
When he isn’t busy thinking about marine biology, Ahmani also plays on the Mitchell men’s basketball team, an opportunity given by Mitchell to play at the collegiate level, and works in the library.