Articles, Blog

Viral Video to Ph.D | Christine Figgener ’19

December 19, 2019

(peaceful music) – I think I always
wanted to be a scientist that does conservation, especially, but I think now I have
this incredible platform that I really don’t wanna let go of. And I hope of course I will be the one that’s providing the data, but I’m also hoping that I will be the one that will be communicating
my science to the public. In between my masters and starting at A&M, I actually lived in Costa Rica for quite a while, about eight years, where I did conservation
work on marine turtles. So the marine biology
interdisciplinary graduate program is fairly new, so it’s
only a few years old, and of course the majority of people that apply to the program
would rather stay at the coast in Galveston or Corpus Christi, and so there’s not that
many people here on campus that do study marine biology. 4.4 kilograms. When I was conducting my
first season of research for my PhD work, we
were capturing turtles, and brought them onto a boat. And when we had this one
particular male on the boat, we were also sampling little
critters that live on turtles, parasites and others, and
we found something encrusted in the nose of that particular male. – [Woman] I’m filming, you can go for it. – So I cut off a piece, and
my local assistant bit on it, it was plastic, so yes
that was how we found out it was a plastic straw that was lodged into the turtle’s nose. I’m sorry little one, I think you’ll like it
better afterwards though. When I had the video in my hand, I really wanted to publish
it and show the world what I had seen because
for me this is a reality, but not so much for all
the other people out there. So I knew that I’m conducting research with Texas A&M University and I needed to run it by my advisor to just know what she thinks
and if she would back me up for whatever happens after. But she also believed that we really need to show the world the realities of plastic and what kind of harm
it can do to wildlife. And so we published it as is. And then this video happened,
and that video provided me, and still provides me with a platform that is beyond of what I
would have ever imagined. Of course I also get more opportunities to talk to the next generation. So I’ve been on a bunch of panels where the next generation
STEM, especially with girls, so I always like to talk to them and give them ideas of what they can do to become a biologist or scientist.

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