Ameera Khan is a senior Marine Environmental Science major from New City, New York.
Why come to Maritime as a civilian student?
I like Marine Environmental Science because it’s a very hands-on program, it’s unique in that way. The program covers a lot of areas in environmental science, but still goes into specific like marine biology and oceanography.
I chose to attend Maritime as a civilian student because Maritime gave me the option of having a regular college experience, I wasn’t as interested in obtaining a license like my fellow classmates. Also, my family is important to me and if I had joined the regiment I wouldn’t get to see them during the week.
What do you like about your major?
Apart from the classes themselves, a great thing about the major is that all the students in the program are so hardworking. We all sit down together and study before an exam. We go through slides and work on problems together. There’s a great sense of community in MES. My classmates are practically my family.
What has been your favorite class?
I’d say ichthyology, the class dealing with the study of fish, was my favorite. Probably because of the opportunity we had to clear and dye a fish. It was an interesting process.
First, I used a scalpel to remove as many scales as I could from a killifish. Then, Dr. Warkentine made an incision in the fish and took all the internal organs out. The fish was placed in a small amount of enzyme solution and stored for a week. After that time was up, I drained the enzyme solution and replaced it. I put the fish in fresh solution every week until its flesh was transparent. Once its flesh was transparent, the fish was placed in Alizarin red solution. The next week, the Alizarin red solution was siphoned off and the fish was placed in a Potassium hydroxide-Glycerin solution. For the next two weeks, Potassium hydroxide-Glycerin was replaced similar to how the enzyme solution was. Finally towards the end of the semester, the killifish was clear enough so that I could make detailed drawings of its skeleton and I could note the fish’s characteristics.
That turned out to be a really unique opportunity that I couldn’t have gotten in another class.
Tell us about your internship.
I was accepted into the marine biology internship program with The River Project located on Pier 40 in New York. I loved my experience there. As an intern, I gathered and recorded data,
monitored fish populations and helped with the Wetlab Look-Ins. I was also one of the fish's main caretakers in the Wetlab aquarium and was responsible for observing their behavior and ensuring their health.
What are Wetlab Look-Ins?
Wetlab Look-Ins are like public outreach. I lead tours through the entire aquarium, I’d describe the fish and tell people about some of the research projects that were going on within the lab itself. That might have been my favorite part of the internship. I loved interacting with the field trips that would come by, and teaching people about marine biology. Most of all, I loved seeing people’s faces light up when they would learn that seahorses and eels live in the Hudson River.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I’d like to go even further in my education after I graduate by going to graduate school. I want to focus on something further in marine biology so that one day I can either work in research or teach others about marine life.