Student Research Profile: Erika Thalman

Erika (shown here with a fish she caught) spent several months working in a CDFW fish hatchery.

Meet Erika Thalman, a senior biology major at PUC. She’s planning on continuing on to graduate school after graduation. Last summer, Erika volunteered at the Moccasin Creek Hatchery helping with a wide variety of projects.

Who are you?
I’m Erika Thalman and I’m a senior biology major. I’m planning on going to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in either natural resources, marine biology, or biology.

What did you do?
I helped with cleaning raceway ponds and feeding the fish. I also had the opportunity to work with a variety of people and do other things like water quality testing, weight counts, assisting in fish planting and public education, as well as participate in hand-spawning California golden trout.

When and where did you do this work?
In the summer of 2017, I volunteered twice a week from mid-July to late-September at the Moccasin Creek Hatchery.

What did you learn?
I learned how to get more involved in areas I’m interested in. Volunteering at this hatchery taught me many useful skills I can apply not only to future careers, but to my personal life as well. I discovered no matter what field you choose to work in, you always interact with people to some degree. This experience demonstrated how a great team of people work together despite their different personalities and temperaments. The hatchery personnel were so willing to teach me all they could about their work and their mission, and were even kind enough to advise me on how to get my foot in the door with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Through this I saw how important it is to make connections wherever you go. You never know when they may come in handy.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?
The science courses I have taken at PUC gave me a good foundation for understanding how many of the processes at the hatchery worked. Classes like Ecology, Field Biology, and Biological Foundations made it easier to understand the different fish behaviors and how to handle the fish. Chemistry was also useful for water testing as well as in choosing medications or anesthetics. Lastly, Genetics contributed to my comprehension of different fish stocks and how the CDFW is able to prevent farmed fish from breeding with wild populations.

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