Sergio Capetillo Bolaños
CO-OP Student of the Month of April 2020
Faculty of Science - Biology
As soon as my journey as a biology student started at the University of Ottawa, I was looking forward to being part of the CO-OP Program. I really liked the idea of acquiring preparatory skills for the job market. For the most part, I was drawn to the opportunity of doing CO-OP placements, since I sincerely believe that one of the biggest challenges for a biological science student, is gaining professional and scientific experience. One of my greatest passions is botany, in other words, everything related to plant life and plants. This is why I tried to find placements related to plant research, directly based on management of plant biodiversity.
For my first CO-OP work-term, I got a DAAD scholarship which is a German scientific research internship program. I had the opportunity to do this internship at the University of Münster while working alongside a graduate student in the Department of Landscape Ecology. Some of my duties as a research assistant were taking samples to monitor the state of peatland restoration and carrying out biogeochemical tests in the lab to obtain data. I really appreciated being able to contribute to this project in Germany, because I was able to learn about biodiversity and mosses (the key shapers of the landscape) of peatlands. I was also able to improve my German and learn more about German culture.
Currently, I am completing my second CO-OP work-term at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Under the supervision of the curator of botanical collections, I learned how to mount plant specimens for the preservation of the national plant heritage. Most of the plants I have worked with are part of a collection from the 1950s by Nicholas Polunin. Now because of COVID-19, my duties have changed, but I continue to work with the botany team.
Finally, participating in CO-OP placements not only allowed me to diversify my resume with unique experiences and adapt to unexpected situations, but also helped me to have a better vision of my future aspirations. As an international student from Mexico, I have a little message for the international students of the University of Ottawa: Don't be afraid and get involved! Be part of the CO-OP Program. It’s there for you