Kyrstn Zylich — for many years a key pillar of the Sea Around Us team — will soon be departing for the frozen tundra of Edmonton in pursuit of an advanced degree in occupational therapy at the University of Alberta.
A senior research assistant with the project over the past four years, Kyrstn has been instrumental in coordinating and finalizing countless catch-reconstruction reports and datasets, many in collaboration with colleagues across the globe.
She started with the project as a volunteer in 2011, and soon after transitioned to a full-time research assistant opportunity. In 2012 she made the jump to senior research assistant and has since proven herself a highly organized, collaborative and thoroughly positive member of the team.
For Kyrstn, what made her time at the Sea Around Us especially memorable were the colleagues she worked with.
“A big part of why I enjoyed the job was that I loved the people here, and I’ve made so many incredible friendships,” she said.
It was a class she took as an undergrad called “Darwin’s Fishes” — taught by Daniel Pauly — that really sparked her interest in marine sciences. “We read sections of the Origin of Species and discussed different concepts within; we talked about natural history, and shifting baselines,” she said.
When Kyrstn took over the job as senior research assistant in 2012 she was thrust into a demanding role. But she took to the challenge like a fish in water and thrived in the new position.
“I was able to communicate with people from all over the world, answering their questions about catch-reconstructions, editing reports and training people, among a variety of other duties,” she said.
She is now off to tackle a new challenge. Her affinity for science has led her to occupational therapy, where she wants to learn hands-on skills to help children with cognitive injuries better participate in school; and aid the elderly so they can stay independent; or help those with injuries transition back to work.
She has a month before her masters program starts in September.
“I’m very sad to be leaving the West Coast, it’s so beautiful here. But I’m excited to explore a new city and have a change of scenery,” she said.
However, the bigger issue for Kyrstn is sports. Kyrstn is a die-hard Vancouver Canucks fan and her office is draped with images of hockey players like Alex Burrows and, the ‘anointed one’, Trevor Linden. When asked whether she will change her allegiance to the Edmonton Oilers she doesn’t hesitate: “Never.”
As the sports-bars fill up with rowdy Oilers fans in Edmonton, Kyrstn acknowledges she may have to “silently support” her hometown team.
The Sea Around Us wants to thank Kyrstn for her tremendous contribution to the project, and wishes her success in her future endeavours!