The first big experience I had as a marine biology student was being an intern as part of a scientific investigation at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. I had the opportunity to help Erin Dillon with her project by processing sediment samples for dermal denticles. During the past three months, I learned a lot about shark dermal denticles’ morphology and physiology. I also practiced the methods to process marine sediment (washing, drying, digestion, peroxide, and picking) in order to collect the denticles from each sample. The skills I developed through this internship helped me comprehend what lab work is like, how long the procedure can be, and how patient a scientist has to be in order to collect data and get results. In the end, I gained priceless knowledge, and helping Erin was another experience that confirmed my passion for marine life.
What’s next for Yamilla?: Yamilla is now headed to Florida International University as a transfer student to continue pursuing her studies in marine biology. She’s very excited to take upper division classes, explore the multitude of topics within the field of marine science, and further refine her interests.