Dustin Snider chose environmental science at ULethbridge because of the smaller class sizes, welcoming atmosphere and the opportunity to build personal connections with professors and academic staff. He doesn’t regret his decision for a second! In the summer of 2022, Dustin participated in an exciting applied study where he assisted with research on Long-toed salamanders through the Southern Alberta Rockies.
I participated in an applied studies course in Summer 2022, where I assisted with research on Long-toed salamanders with the Lee-Yaw lab. This experience bridged the gap between practical experience and academic projects, which most traditional courses do not offer. I was able to supplement my fieldwork experience with research on published literature on similar topics.
Meet Dustin | Adventurous. Naturalist. Passionate.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Environmental Science
Please tell us a bit about your experiential or work-integrated learning at ULethbridge.
I participated in an applied studies course in Summer 2022, where I assisted with research on Long-toed salamanders with the Lee-Yaw lab. My fieldwork focused on conducting presence/absence surveys of Long-toed salamanders through the Southern Alberta Rockies. In contrast, my academic project focused on scoring the colour morphologies of Long-toed salamanders in Canada and the USA. In this work, I accompanied graduate student Kaegan Finn to 110 wetlands from Castle Provincial Park to the Kananaskis country to perform presence/absence surveys on four amphibian species, hiking nearly 500 kilometres and gaining over 10,000 m in elevation over the summer.
This experience bridged the gap between practical experience and academic projects, which most traditional courses do not offer. I was able to supplement my fieldwork experience with research on published literature on similar topics. This course fostered my interest in field research, so much so that I am considering enrolling in graduate studies after completing my undergraduate degree.
The best part of the job was getting to explore the southern Alberta Rockies and hiking to wetlands that have seen very little to no human activity. We were lucky to get up close and personal with grizzlies and experience nature in a way that doesn’t happen during weekend getaways.
Before working with the Lee-Yaw lab, I knew practically nothing about Alberta's diversity and distribution of amphibians. This experience helped me gain a huge appreciation and interest in amphibians. I’ve learned to keep my eyes open for all kinds of critters. They’re out there; you just have to look!
What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience so far?
My most memorable ULethbridge experience was entering my first semester of courses in 2018 and feeling the passion for science radiating from the students and professors. There was an abundance of like-minded people who all shared the same goals and aspirations.
Have you received any scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.
I received an NSERC USRA that funded my research with the Lee-Yaw lab this past summer. I am extremely grateful to the NSERC Scholarship Selection Committee and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for funding my research on amphibians.
Are you participating in any extracurricular activities like sports or the arts? If so, how are these experiences enhancing or complimenting what you are doing in the classroom?
I have been the President of the Geography Club for the past few years. Now that classes are entirely in-person, we are hosting events such as hiking, axe-throwing, and snowshoeing. Our main goal is to connect students with like-minded peers, aiming to increase interest in geography and the outdoors. The Geography Club has enhanced my experience in U of L courses through our participation in the Western Division Canadian Association of Geographers conferences, which I have attended for three years. The conference introduces undergraduate students to research projects by graduates and undergraduates in western Canada and the northwestern USA. It provides local examples of topics learned in the classroom and teaches students how to conduct their own research.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
I am excited to graduate in December 2022 and take some time off to ice-fish in northern Saskatchewan! Next, I will focus on finding a career in the natural sciences or enrolling in a master's program in biology.
What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?
My advice for incoming students is, “Don't Be Nervous!” There are so many like-minded people to invite to study groups or socialize with on weekends. The professors are also very understanding of individual situations and always want you to succeed.
You should also pick one or two campus clubs you resonate with and attend as many events as possible. This will allow you to meet tons of students and introduce you to new experiences!
What are the top three things you like to do in or around Lethbridge?
- Fossil hunting in the coulees
- Searching for Northern Scorpions in the Oldman River valley
- Kayaking on prairie/mountain lakes
Favourite class: Field Biology
Favourite social activity at ULethbridge: Hiking with the Geography Club
Favourite place to study: In the AWESB (Water Building)
About Shining Students
Shining Students engage inside and outside of the classroom. What makes a student shine may differ from person to person, but they all share a passion for learning. They may be top students, involved in an innovative project, participating in ground-breaking research, playing Pronghorn athletics, fighting for social issues or all of the above! When students find something they enjoy and combine it with what they are good at, they shine.
Each year, the Faculty of Arts & Science's faculty and staff nominate students who exemplify the ULethbridge student spirit. Congratulations Dustin!
- Paid work terms
- Hands-on career & research experience
- International study
- Awards, scholarships and a range of student support