Marcel Du Pleissis stands in a garden area at VIU's Nanaimo campus.

Laying the foundation for a future research career

May 30, 2022
Author: Rachel Stern

Diploma grad plans to eventually pursue his PhD

Marcel Du Pleissis is graduating from Vancouver Island University this June with a Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology diploma. He decided to enrol in the diploma program as a foundational learning step and plans on returning to VIU this fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science, Major in Biology.

He also chose the Fisheries and Aquaculture Diploma because it’s a unique program that allows students opportunities for hands-on learning. It is also a cohort program that provides students the opportunity to connect more with peers.

“There was a handful of us, and we all had the same classes so we’ve been through these last two years together. It definitely made it easier to form friendships and work together,” says Marcel.

Marcel says one piece of advice he would give to students entering cohort programs, such as the Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology diploma, is to try to get to know their peers.

“You will be sharing classes and working together with the same 20 people,” he says. “So it makes the whole process easier and more enjoyable when you’ve gotten to know one another a bit.

One of the most impactful moments for Marcel while studying at VIU was during his last fisheries management class before the final exam with Dr. Spencer Russell, an Associate Professor in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. At the end of the class, when the topic of discussion shifted to the students’ plans after graduation Russell pointed to Marcel and remarked that he would be getting his PhD one day. 

“That was very validating,” says Marcel, adding that it’s great to have support and see other people are recognizing his goals and that they are attainable.

Another meaningful moment was a discussion with Dr. Duane Barker, a VIU Fisheries and Aquaculture Professor. 

“I was asking him about his academic journey and what he sees as options for me and he had a lot of things to say that were very helpful to me,” says Marcel.  

Marcel wants to get his bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and then a PhD. He eventually wants to pursue research and publish academic papers on his studies. Marcel wants to pursue something in marine biology, ichthyology (a branch of zoology that deals with fish), or fisheries fields and says he’ll most likely concentrate on taxonomy of phylogenetics, the study of the evolutionary history and relationships among or within a group of organisms.

Last summer and this fall Marcel had the opportunity to work and conduct research at VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station under the guidance of Dr. Timothy Green, VIU’s Canada Research Chair for Shellfish Health and Genomics. He conducted specimen tagging in the summer and this fall worked on a disease challenge trial of the Japanese scallop, Patinopecten yessoensis, involving the bacteria Francisella halioticida.

“It’s been really nice doing work with Tim and to establish that relationship with a professor,” says Marcel.

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