MSc student-blogger tells tales of research in remote France

Colin Buhariwalla (BSc Biology’10) is a long way from his home in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Master of Science (MSc) student at Acadia University is currently conducting acoustic range tests of brown trout as part of a collaboration of the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) at Dalhousie University and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA, France).

The project presents a unique opportunity to study large-scale colonization by a species in the context of climate change and glacial retreat. It’s also giving Colin the chance to document his time in a remote French region in an informative and entertaining blog called, the Kerguelen Updates.  

Kerguelen Updates Photo Gallery:

Kerguelen Updates


Below, Colin shares his insights about the academic journey that led him to this research opportunity.

Why did you choose Acadia?
Well, in Grade 12 I was looking for the small university experience so I visited a friend at Acadia. The campus was beautiful, class sizes were small, and the people were friendly so I decided AU was the place for me. During my Bachelor of Science (BSC) I enrolled in the co-op program and have been benefitting from it ever since.

After undergrad, as a result of experience gained through co-op, I worked for Dr. Anna Redden and Dr. Mike Stokesbury for about a year and then started working for DFO (Fisheries and Oceans), but I knew I wanted to go back to school. An opportunity to study under Dr. Mike Dadswell and Dr. Stokesbury presented itself, so I jumped on it.

I chose to do a Master of Science (MSc) at Acadia because of the rigorous program, support for students, great community within the Biology department and because of the Stokesbury–Dadswell lab (Coastal Ecology Lab). The lab is using cutting edge technology to understand the ecology and physiology of migratory fishes that are of concern to conservationists and support important commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries.

Through the co-op program and as a member of the coastal ecology lab, countless professional and personal development opportunities have come my way. The most notable for me so far has been presenting research at international conferences and meeting researchers from around the world.

Before I started my MSc, the thought of getting up and talking to a room of scientists was horrifying, but now it is bordering on fun.

What does an Acadia education offer?
Education at Acadia consists of both academic and personal learning.

When I was trying to land my first co-op job, Michelle Larsen—the co-op coordinator who helped spark my interest in field biology—told me to “say yes” to whatever came my way. I think that stepping outside my comfort zone and saying ‘yes’ to new projects, new opportunities, new experiences, and new challenges has been the greatest lesson I have learned at Acadia.

How do you like blogging?
Well, I can’t say that I have much experience blogging. Initially, I wanted to spin a yarn (‘to tell a story’ in Cape Bretonese) for my friends and family back home so that we could share the adventure.

I have had a lot of support from supervisors, colleagues, friends, and family. I never thought of myself as much of a storyteller, but people liked what I had to say so the lovely folks at the Ocean Tracking Network, who sent me to Kerguelen, started posting my updates online. I am quite happy to hear that people are enjoying the adventure and am even happier if they’ve learned something new about an amazing part of the world.

Follow Colin’s blog, the Kerguelen Updates.

Learn more about Acadia’s Coastal Ecology Lab. Co-operative Education, and academic programs.


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