My name is Kaitlin Grell and I earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences and an Environmental Science certificate from FAU in May of 2019. About a month after I graduated from FAU, I started work with the Walt Disney World Company as an Aquatic Research Intern at the Seas with Nemo & Friends! I have worked on several ongoing projects while part of the Seas Science Team, including daily animal observations, coral growth analysis, and nanobubble treatment analysis. However, my absolute favorite part of this position is doing research with Disney’s dolphins! Our team conducts a lot of cognitive research with our dolphins, trying to understand the different ways that they think and perceive their environment. One project we have worked on is a fish identification match, attempting to see if the dolphins can distinguish videos of different fish species from one another, at which they have proven to be very successful! My current individual research project at the Seas involves assessing dolphin/human window interactions during various times of the day using a variety of enrichment devices.
My time at FAU helped prepare me for my current position in many ways, especially as I focused on marine biology-related coursework and research. Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Semester by the Sea program introduced me to the heavy course and lab work that has proven to be very useful in my professional career. My research experiences as part of the Harbor Branch Dolphin Research team for three years and as part of Dr. Sarah Milton’s sea turtle lab for two years have also proved to be a vital part of my current success. Without the knowledge and skills, I gained in these labs, I would not be where I am today, and would have never learned how much I love pursuing aquatic research! For any undergraduate looking to pursue a career in the marine biology field, my advice to them would be to volunteer in a lab and/or a local aquarium, wildlife facility, or animal shelter – your past lab and animal experience as an undergrad is what will really set you apart in your future endeavors!