Jessica Braun

Where did you transfer from?

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Why did you want to come to the University?

I was attending a 2-year community college before this and wanted to go to an institution where I could get a 4-year degree. I chose to continue my education at the University of Minnesota for a variety of reasons. I loved the campus, and I love the programs they have to offer. And I love the University's drive to continue discovering and exploring our world.

What are you researching?

My mentor and I are researching the question: Are aquacultured bluefin tuna a suitable substitute for fresh-caught bluefin tuna in the marketplace?

Bluefin tunas, a top ocean predator and an ecologically important species, are being over fished and quickly disappearing from our seas as they fetch a higher and higher market price. Wild bluefin tunas seem to be fitting into the luxury market and therefore, would not be easily substituted in the market. Their high prices seem to be directly related to their scarcity in numbers.

We are using statistical methods to empirically answer our questions. This is where the fun part lies. I have been scouring websites and online databases and utilizing foreign contacts made by Matt to collect the expansive and very particular data that we need. This research will be useful to conservation efforts for the bluefin tuna and to the aquaculture industry as it expands. Farmed fish is the last frontier to be tackled.

What have you gotten out of this experience?

So far, I have loved the guidance that Matt has given me. I thoroughly enjoy going to the weekly lab group meetings and getting a glimpse into the lives of researchers. I have learned that attitude and passion for what you are doing is key. If you are curious and not afraid to get lost and ask for help, you can walk away with a fresh sense of confidence and the understanding that no one knows it all and never will, but we all will keep asking and thinking and dreaming and sharing. That's the wonderful thing about life.

What are your interests outside of school?

Reading, playing with my pet rabbit and pet rats, drawing, painting, doing puzzles, biking, hiking, camping, gardening, collecting old books, coins, and photos, swimming, thrifting, writing, beating my friends in dominoes, snacking, Googling, helping my friend with her urban farm, beekeeping, veggie eating, and tea drinking.

Do you participate in any extracurricular activities?

Yes, I am one of the co-creators of the activist group, Radical Effing Feminists. I also work really hard at this awesome eco-friendly Nepalese cafe in Uptown.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program in the College of Biological Sciences. After completing my undergraduate degree, I don't know where I am going to go, but there are many things I would like to do: pursue a M.D./Ph.D. in ecology or environmental engineering, live and work on an eco-farm my friends and I are starting, work for Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, and/or take a long international backpacking trip.

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