UBCO graduate student Ashley Kerik has a passion for all animals. - Contributed

Globe trotting biology student to study at UBCO

Academia path for Ashley Kerik began in Australia

Ashley Kerik has always had itchy feet. Since graduating from high school, she approached the world as one big laboratory, where new discoveries were just around the bend.

Kerik spent seven years touring much of the globe on both land and water.

She concluded her travels with the realization that an academic background would enhance and give meaning to her wanderings.

Just when her peers were donning caps and gowns to celebrate their convocations, Kerik traded in her flippers for textbooks and entered her first year at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Despite temptations, she stayed in Kelowna long enough to complete her studies and this week will be awarded an Honours Bachelor of Science degree with a major in zoology from the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

“I am a bit of an adrenaline junky, but I always knew I would continue with my education,” said Kerik. “I feel my travels really helped me narrow-in and decide on what topics I wanted to study.”

The Manitoba native discovered a love for everything marine during her time in Australia and Asia and had her eye set on spending time at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. For her UBC experience, the Okanagan campus was the only choice.

“I knew exactly where I wanted to go,” she said. “UBC is world-renowned for its research and at the Okanagan campus I felt I could thrive in an intimate and supportive environment.”

Kerik embraced campus life and that of the community. She was one of the UBC Okanagan Wildlife Society Club founding members and found time to be on the board of directors of the Kelowna Ultimate Players Society.

Although dedicated during the school year, her wanderlust took over in the summers and Kerik spent time in Haida Gwaii and studying at the Bamfield centre.

Through perseverance and dedication, she completed an honours thesis with Biology Professor Ian Walker. During this time, she could be found on the water looking for freshwater sponges. She identified five new species living in the Okanagan.

“It was relatively easy for me to do well, because I had the passion and drive to do so,” says Kerik.

She agrees that it wasn’t always easy being a full decade older than her classmates, but for her this provided a learning opportunity. She found it enriching to listen, provide guidance and compare life experiences with her classmates.

At the same time, fieldwork and environmental issues were always common ground with her peers.

“Ashley has a real zeal for exploring the natural world,” says Laura Hooker, Kerik’s mentor and biology professor.

“This was clearly evident in my “Flora and Fauna of Inland Waters” course where she was like a ninja with a dip net. Her unbridled enthusiasm, and good eye for identification, made it a joy to grade the collections she prepared.”

Kerik strongly believes that to survive and prosper, the world needs healthy water. “If oceans die, we die.”

Through her initiatives, she’d like to promote global responsibility for these bodies of water.

There is a sea of possibilities open to Kerik but as a next step, she plans to attend graduate school to study and identify the presence of river sharks, using environmental DNA as a marker.

Her dream job is to bring the mystery and awe of the undersea world to individuals who have never had the opportunity to visit them.

In her view, the best way to save the oceans is to educate people about what might be lost if they are destroyed.


edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna boat retailers worry about tit-for-tat tariffs by U.S. and Canada

A 10 per cent tariff on new boats coming into Canada is prompting big cuts to boat orders

UPDATE: Car engulfed in flames in Winfield

Firefighters were able to extinguish the burning car quickly

Used needle falls from sky in Vernon

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Mercury rises in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures reach about 36 C with humidex in the Okanagan and Shuswap

Kal Beach cleanup disgusts

Keep Kal Lake Blue collects straws, cigarette butts, bottle caps, band-aids, broken toys among garbage

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

Unfiltered: IPAs explained with Cannery Brewing brewmaster

Checking out the new IPA created by Penticton brewery Cannery Brewing Company

Man gets 2 years in prison for assault on Okanagan Correctional officer

Union rep said inmate sucker punched correctional officer, continued assault after officer fell

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

Most Read