Listening in

A junior in biological sciences uses podcasting to enlighten and connect.

Mekia Bushell started her UAA career back in high school when she took a Keyboarding class at Kodiak College. She is now pursuing her bachelor's degree in biological sciences through UAA. This past fall semester, she took a Marine Biology (BIOL A481) course with Professor Debbie Tobin through Homer's Kachemak Bay Campus. In this course, students were assigned a community-engaged learning project around an issue of aquatic importance in their community. For the project, students were encouraged to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge. Mekia chose a matter of importance to the community of Kodiak, that of the invasion of signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in the Buskin Lake ecosystem.

  • Mekia diving with a crayfish in hand.
    Mekia snorkeling with a crayfish in hand.
  • crayfish on rocks
    Signal crayfish on the rocks.
  • Mekia driving a boat
    Mekia on Buskin lake in a boat with a GPS unit.

Her interest in this subject came from a summer field season working with the Sun'aq Tribe monitoring and removing crayfish from the lake. For the project, Mekia created an engaging podcast that integrates all that she learned about the impacts of this invasive species on the salmon species that use the lake. Mekia found that speaking to biologists with the Sun'aq Tribe and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and reviewing data from field seasons highlights the invasive crayfish's detrimental role on rural food security. 

What's next for Mekia? She will continue her studies and she is currently working with Assistant Professor Pat Tomco, Department of Chemistry, on a metabolomics project. She plans to attend graduate school after she finishes her degree in 2022.