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Maryna J


Maryna J

Hayfields, Pietermaritzburg

As a child, I grew up in Swaziland and spent most weekends cycling, hiking, fishing, bird watching and camping in nearby game reserves, including the Kruger National Park. This developed a great love for nature and a passion for wildlife. In grade 8, I went to boarding school in Pretoria, which helped me become independent at a young age. The time I spent in boarding school has taught me how to be respectful and considerate to other people and work in a group as well as alone. Today, my passion for the outdoors continues and I live an active lifestyle participating in sporting events and team adventure challenges. I have finished my BSc degree in Biological Sciences in 2013 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This program has taught me how the collect and analyse data (using statistical software) and present it in a scientific report. I have learnt the theory and importance of understanding and linking evolution, animal behaviour and physiology. This degree has helped me to learn how to work in an organized and orderly manner. One of my third year modules was a research based project, which required me to record data and write a scientific report. My project was on the thermoregulation and sleep patterns of fruit bats and how they are affected by heat. I recorded their body temperature using a thermal imaging camera and observed if the bats in the roost were awake or asleep. The paper that I had helped co-author has been accepted into the PLOS ONE Journal. It is titled: “Too hot to sleep: Seasonal temperature effects on sleep behaviour and surface body temperature of Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat”. Another third year module required me to design an experiment and write a scientific report on the data I collected. For this project, I tested how insects respond to UV nectar guides on flowers. I was able to determine that UV nectar guides are essential markers in the plant pollinator relationship. It was for this subject that I won the Olaf Wirminghaus Prize, which is awarded to the best third year student in Behavioural Ecology. In 2014, I completed my BSc honours in biology. For my main honours project, I analyzed whether there were differences in the dung scent of similarly aged territorial and non-territorial male impala. I found slight differences in the chemical composition between the two and striking similarities to other browsers, such as White Rhino. I collected my data in Hluhuwe-Imfolozi Park. During my honours year, I learnt how to present a project proposal and my final project write up in a professional and concise manner. I have also been involved with demonstrating various biological subjects for undergraduate students. I was required to help and guide students in their practical assignments. This has taught me important communication skills, as I had to explain complicated terms to students who do not understand. In 2015, I started my Masters project, working for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), under the supervision of Prof C. T. Downs. I was assessing if red-billed oxpecker translocations were successful in KwaZulu-Natal and then developed quantitative methodology that EWT may use in future assessments. Part of my project involved doing transect surveys to determine red-billed oxpecker presence and trapping them to determine population genetics. The majority of this data was collected in Ithala Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park. I have also developed excellent communicational skills and confidence to present and discuss my project. I have been dedicated in training to ringing birds for four years and in 2016, I became a licensed bird ringer with SAFRING. I have ringed over 70 different species, which includes birds of prey and waders. I am a dedicated, organized, hardworking individual and I aim to contribute my skills to wildlife protection and conservation. Overall, I have the ability to learn new skills and practice them with a high level of sophistication and professionalism.

Teaches: Study Skills, Biology, Natural Sciences, Ecology and Environmental Biology, Physiology
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