Makenzie Burrows is an OCG alum, now a graduate student at USF’s College of Marine Science, and an OCG science mentor! Read below to learn about Makenzie’s path from OCG camper in 2009 to science mentor in 2018, and her advice for other campers and alums!
When did you go to camp and do you have any favorite memories? I went to camp in the Summer of 2009. I really enjoyed going on all of the field trips, including the behind the scenes tour of SeaWorld, the one day research cruise through Tampa Bay, and swimming with manatees in Crystal River. These trips opened my eyes to all the different avenues of marine science and got me asking questions about what I really want to do for the rest of my life.
What have you been doing since camp? I went to undergrad at USFSP starting in 2013. I was very involved on campus as a team leader for Campus Recreation and as the president of Harborside Activities Board (the event planning organization on campus). I majored in biology and spent my junior and senior year working in a genetics (Mya Breitbart’s) lab at USF’s College of Marine Science. I interned with a Ph.D candidate working on sequencing a Herpesvirus associated with a tumor causing disease found in sea turtles around the world. This summer I had the pleasure of having my very own intern from Eckerd, who helped me start my Master’s project. We DNA barcoded over 1000 fish eggs from the Gulf of Mexico down to the species level. I will be continuing this research for the next couple years.
What would you like to do in the future? I have a lot of ideas of what I would like to be when I “grow up”. I am very interested in teaching the community about scientific research. Over the last couple years I have been active in helping local communities learn about science, including Girls Inc, St. Pete’s Science Festival, local STEM groups and more. I am also interested in doing my own research or becoming a full professor.
Do you have any advice for campers who have completed the camp and are interested in pursuing science? Never give up on your dreams! Science is endless! We need to keep learning to grow as individuals, so it is very important to stay curious and open minded. Also, get to know as many professors and teachers as you can. You never know who will be your guide to the next step in your career.