About Me

I believe that positive experiences connecting with nature in the outdoors leads children and adults to live healthier and happier lives. These connections can be fostered through wilderness camping and outdoor pursuits as well as experiential education and scientific discovery. I facilitate opportunities for youth to build outdoor skills in group settings as Program Manager for the YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island Outdoor Centre and Camp Thunderbird. I manage a staff team of approximately 50 youth ages 17-25, who mentor and counsel over 600 campers per summer. In the spring and fall seasons, school groups visit camp for one to three day field trips and students participate in camp activities including rock climbing, canoeing, orienteering and team-building activities. Summer programs involve traditional camp activities such as archery, games, kayaking, hiking as well as out-trips to places like the West Coast Trail, Strathcona Park, the Southern Gulf Islands and Broughton Archipelago.

I also run Sitka Careers, a small business that provides job search, resume and CV, and graduate school consulting for early career biologists. We help students or recent graduates position themselves for their next career move. I get great satisfaction from seeing my clients improve their job search and resume skills and secure rewarding positions.

My previous experiences

As a Marine Science Educator at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, I was fortunate to share my experience and passion for the scientific understanding, and creative appreciation of the natural world, with a few thousand students every year. The students came from many backgrounds and at variety of ages:  kindergarteners to university and continuing education students; scouts, First Nations, adult naturalist groups, and visiting conference attendees.

From 2010 to 2013, I spent each autumn teaching twenty four undergraduate students how to ask scientific questions and conduct independent research projects. This year, one pair of students successfully turned their project into a publication (see below). In 2012, the students wrote scientific blogs about their research, and an article that I wrote about the use of the blogs as a teaching tool was featured at nature.com. During summer 2013, I co-designed and co-taught a brand new course for non-biology majors — Science and the Sea: Understanding Coastal Environments of the Pacific Northwest with Dave Riddell. I can imagine nothing better than sharing science and nature with students both in the outdoors and through immersion learning in the lab and classroom.

I believe strongly in volunteerism and the power to make positive change in communities through dedication and cooperation of volunteers. I have served as the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for the Bamfield Community School, and appreciated the opportunity that gave me to support local literacy, health and youth events.

I have worked with Canadian Kelp Resources to produce kelp seed for conservation groups such as the Nile Creek Enhancement Society who are working to reintroduce kelp forests, or for kelp farmers who grow the seaweeds for sale.

In the first year of my graduate studies, I started the UNB chapter of the Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program (now called Let’s Talk Science Outreach).  Let’s Talk Science is a national science outreach program whose mission is to increase Science literacy.  The Outreach Program focuses on reaching out and connecting young people across Canada with scientists from universities and colleges. I started with program during my undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University, where I was a volunteer.  On arriving at UNB, and finding no Outreach Site operating, I decided to start the local site. I still volunteer with Let’s Talk Science by connecting with Bamfield children to provide age and culturally appropriate science activities.

My doctoral research combined traditional taxonomy with state-of-the-art molecular biology and focused on understanding species diversity of seaweeds in Canada.  I’m fascinated by the amazing variety of seaweed species found on Canada’s coasts, and like many scientists and naturalists, I occasionally get frustrated by the difficulty of telling the species apart. However, I was delighted be part of a team working to develop the tools necessary to make species identification easier.  My research is a part of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, which is part of an even larger, international consortium of scientists striving to sequence a standardized portion of DNA from every (non-bacterial/non-virus) species on earth and link those sequences to species identification. The ultimate goal is that these sequences will make up a database in which anyone can access and use to identify species. See my list of publications below.

I also taught a non-majors special topics course on microbiology during my graduate degree. Since these students do not go on in science,  I redesigned the curriculum, dispensing with the minute details of biochemical pathways and cellular structures in favour of a holistic picture of the most common ways microbes affect the everyday lives of people. After a brief introduction to viruses and bacteria, I taught about how microbes affect human health, microbial roles in food production, global climate and waste management. We also did some interesting case studies on microbes that have made the news in recent years, such as SARS, the anthrax attacks in the USA and the tragic outbreak of E. coli in Walkerton, Ontario.

Publications

Stark, S., C. Smyth & H. Kucera (2016) Attachment strength of the herbivorous rockweed isopod, Idotea wosnesenskii (Isopoda, Crustaceae, Arthropoda), depends on properties of its seaweed host. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 477: 1-6. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2016.01.006

Chester, A., K. Starosta, C. Andreoiu, R. Ashley, A. Barton, J.-C. Brodovitch, M. Brown, T. Domingo, C. Janusson, H. Kucera, K. Myrtle, D. Riddell, K. Scheel, A. Salomon, P. Voss (2013) Monitoring rainwater and seaweed reveals the presence of I-131 in southwest and central British Columbia, Canada following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 124: 205-213 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.05.013

Kucera, H. & G.W. Saunders (2012) A survey of Bangiales (Rhodophyta) based on multiple molecular markers reveals cryptic diversity. Journal of Phycology 48 (4): 869-882. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012.01193.x 

Saunders, GW and H. Kucera. 2010 An evaluation of rbcL, tufA, UPA, LSU and ITS as DNA barcode markers for the marine green macroalgae. Cryptogamie Algologie 31 (4): 487-528. pdf

Kucera, H. and G.W. Saunders 2008 Assigning morphological variants of Fucus (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) in Canadian waters to recognized species using DNA barcoding. Botany 86(9): 1065–1079 doi:10.1139/B08-056