My name is Anaïs and I’m from Montpellier, which is located in the South of France. It is a big university town and I study Biology at the University in Montpellier. I just completed my first year and now I’m in Guelph for 6 weeks (July 8th –August 19th, 2015) doing an internship with the Collections Department at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. During the 6 weeks I am in Guelph, I am hoping to learn more about DNA barcoding and what the Barcode of Life project is.
I arrived in Canada on July 1st with my family and we visited Montréal for a week before coming down to Guelph. Montréal is a really pretty city with lots of cute parks and great culture. The second weekend we were in Canada, my family and I visited Niagara Falls. We had a wonderful time, and it was possibly the best day of my life with my family. We spent 8 hours in Niagara and the day passed by so quickly! We went on the ferry towards the falls with other tourists, and we looked really funny in our fashionable red ponchos! My parents also drove us to Lake Huron and the weather was bad, but it was still a great day. The water was very blue, but very cold. My family left on the 21st of July and I stayed in Guelph for my training period. I also visited Huntsville with Shannon on one of the past weekends. We stayed at Shannon’s family’s house and I loved this city. I hope to come back to Huntsville to show all the lakes of this city to my family. The landscapes were so beautiful!
Back in France, the director of my program encouraged all the students to participate in a training period/internship. We could have worked at a restaurant or in a shop, because he knew that it was difficult to find a training period in a lab for first year students. I personally would like to work in the food industry after I complete University, but I was lucky to find an internship position in this lab to work with the Collections team. My primary goal was to improve my English, so it did not matter if I was working in an insect lab.
In this lab, I labelled Schmidt boxes, did voucher recovery, tissue sampling, worked in imaging, the archives and translated the School Malaise Trap Program website to french. This School Malaise Trap Program is really interesting and I love the concept, because I love children. I would have loved to have people come to my classroom to talk about different species when I was young. It is really important to know the world around us. I am impressed by the number of species discovered and barcoded around the world. Before my training period I thought a « fly » was a fly, a dragonfly was in the same family as a butterfly, etc., but there are so many ways of classifying insects! During my 6 weeks I learned about DNA extraction, what DNA Barcoding is, how species are classified and how to identify an insect to order. Of course I need a dichotomous key for that, because I don’t know all of the species! I found this lab to be very organized, which I really liked. I don’t know what I prefer to do the most, but I love taking pictures and I love butterflies, so maybe I should be taking more pictures of butterflies! I also like labelling because I like things being neat and tidy. I guess it is necessary to have a lot of patience to work in a lab.
Coming to Canada was a dream of mine. In the future, I would like to visit every continent and take pictures of all the different landscapes I visit. This is my first trip and I met some fantastic people. I hope my English has improved since the first day in Canada. I was very happy with my experience working in this lab with all the people that work for BIO. It was a really great experience to spend time in Canada with Canadian people.
Overall I would like to thank Paul Hebert for selecting me to work in his lab, Jeremy for including me in the Collections team, Thanushi, Crystal and Shannon for their help and kindness.