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MarineQuest at UNCW: Mark Makowski

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MarineQuest at UNCW: Mark Makowski

Mark Makowski spent part of his summer in the MarineQuest program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?

Marine science has always been a large part of my life. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to become a marine biologist.

How did you decide which program or camp was right for you?

I attended MarineQuest’s summer residential programs O.C.E.A.N.S. in 2013 and Oceans-17 in 2014. Sophomore year of high school, I started to think about potential colleges I would want to attend to get my degree in marine biology. The University of North Carolina Wilmington was my top choice. My Mom and I were doing more research into UNCW and we discovered MarineQuest. I decided to attend MarineQuest to discover what UNCW’s marine biology program offers.

What was a typical day in your summer program or at camp?

When I attended O.C.E.A.N.S., I was exposed to many different aspects of Marine Science. During the two-week camp, we went on research cruises and on field trips to beaches, marshes, a fouling station, a marine-technology facility, UNCW research labs, UNCW’s Center for Marine Science, Fort Fisher Aquarium and UNCW’s Aquaculture Facility. MarineQuest allowed me to gain experiences I never would have had the chance to otherwise in my life.

What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

The most memorable experience from the O.C.E.A.N.S. residential camp was touring the UNCW Aquaculture facility. They were breeding flounder, and I looked into one of the tanks and there were hundreds of juvenile flounder covering the whole tank. I thought it was amazing that marine biologists were able to raise fish in a controlled environment to provide a sustainable food source without taking wild fish out of the ocean. I enjoyed MarineQuest’s O.C.E.A.N.S. camp so much that I decided to come back the following year for the three-week Oceans-17 summer residential camp.

During the Oceans-17 camp, I had the opportunity to get my Open Water PADI scuba diving licenses and I went to many different shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina.

I also had the chance to work with a professor researching invasive species of algae Gracilaria. I set up a tank in one of the wet labs at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science. The research project was to see if amphipods would be able to make a potential home out of the invasive algae. I tested the invasive algae against an artificial algae and the local species of algae Ulva. The experiment was conducted over the three-week camp. The opportunity of conducting my own experiment gave me a hands-on learning experience that is still useful to this day.

What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs or camps?

I would tell teens looking to get involved in a STEM summer residential camp that it will give them an advantage when going into college. Experience is one of the most important aspects in a STEM-related field. Attending MarineQuest allowed me to become familiar with UNCW and instilled in me a desire to pursue a career in aquaculture in the Marine biology field. Having previous experience working with equipment and the scientific process allowed me to get an internship at the UNCW Aquaculture Facility. I am currently starting my junior year at UNCW majoring in Marine Biology and working at the Aquaculture Facility.

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