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Stefanie Colombo

Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Aquaculture Nutrition
Dalhousie University
Stefanie Colombo

Stefanie Colombo

Stefanie Colombo

Stefanie Colombo

Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

My research helps improve the nutritional quality of farmed fish for consumers.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Brantford, Ontario

I now live in: Ontario

I completed my training/education at: B.Sc. Marine & Freshwater Biology (University of Guelph), M.Sc. Biology (Dalhousie University), Ph.D. Biology (Memorial University)

What I do at work

My days are usually never the same and this keeps things interesting! I have meetings with students, of course. I also meet with collaborators on research projects as well as other professors. I work with a team in my lab. This includes graduate students, technical assistants, and myself. I also work on other project teams for different experiments. These may involve industry or government collaborators, professors from other universities, and students.

I write scientific journal manuscripts and book chapters. I apply for grants to get funding for new experiments. I review my finances for each experiment that has been funded. I review graduate students’ theses and manuscripts. I review grants and journal manuscripts from peers and make decisions on whether they should be accepted.

I also teach courses (currently online!). I train students how to do different nutritional analyses in the lab. I also train students how to manage experiments with live fish. These experiments include ensuring their daily care and record keeping for experiments. It also includes sampling and dissections. I attend and speak at conferences around the world. I am currently trying to learn Portuguese because I have collaborators in Brazil and am planning a second trip there next year.

My career path is

In high school, I knew that I loved biology, but wasn’t exactly sure what I would do. I also loved the ocean. Even during my B.Sc. in Marine Biology, I did not know what aquaculture was until my final year. After I finished my B.Sc., I started looking for jobs. I noticed there were a lot of jobs in aquaculture, for technicians with my education. I took a chance and moved from Ontario to Nova Scotia to work as a hatchery technician. That job was a major influence on the rest of my career. I learned that I was passionate about aquaculture and enjoyed doing scientific research. As a result, I decided to pursue a M.Sc. degree and then a Ph.D. Both of my theses were related to aquaculture nutrition. I have also been fortunate to have very supportive mentors, family and friends that all encouraged me along the way. Learn more about my career path in this interview with Ontario Aquaculture Research Centre.

I am motivated by

My work gets me excited and is very rewarding to me. I feel like I’m contributing to something bigger as I add to scientific understanding. I also help the aquaculture industry and that helps conserve our oceans and feed the world. I love starting a new research project! It is exciting to think about the new knowledge that will be gained. I love designing a new experiment and planning all the details. I love the creativity of it! I also enjoy analyzing the data once we have all the results.

One of my favourite parts of my job is writing. I love searching the literature to align my new results to what has been found before. I love the creativity of writing, framing the research for the readers, and putting the results in context so that the results can be used. I also find mentoring M.Sc. and Ph.D. students very rewarding; I get to train the next generation of scientists.

How I affect peoples’ lives

I feel that I am contributing to the innovation and positive evolution of the aquaculture industry by doing scientific research. The research I do can affect practices of the industry. It can also help improve the nutritional quality of farmed fish for consumers. I also get to contribute to training the next generation of scientists. I love that I am able to help students reach their own goals.

Outside of work I

In my spare time, I enjoy walking/hiking, swimming, scuba diving, going to the beach, reading, and cooking. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends.

My advice to others

Be open to opportunities, you never know what you might learn that could shape your career. Don’t be afraid of new challenges because when things get tough it’s an opportunity to grow. Taking some time to work in between degrees can help you decide on the field you really want to do research in. It’s important to be passionate about your research!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Foreign Languages
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Foods and Nutrition
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked reading
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Learned best by doing

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