Canadian Marine Mammal Rescue Network

Pre-Veternary Internships

"I basically entered into the advanced pre-vet internship knowing absolutely nothing about the career other then the fact that it dealt with animals. Entering into the internship I was taken by surprise. I
had no idea there was this whole other side to the vet degree. Living life as Professor Wittnich (in some ways, I?m sure hers was ten times busier) I learned quite a lot about the non-conventional vet career
and its many components but also about the vet career itself. Dr Wittnich was extremely helpful in helping me figure out what to do and how to do things. It was informative and very hands-on. In short,
taking part in the pre-vet internship has been the smartest move I made since entering university. Great mentors (got to say thanks to Mike, Nesime, Steve, Luke and especially Dr Wittnich), awesome
opportunities to learn many things about vet medicine and way too much fun. I suggest this to anyone to wants to pursue vet medicine, it's an opportunity you won't regret."

Hamsha 2008 Advanced Pre-vet Intern

"Before I was involved in the pre-vet program, I had only a very limited understanding of what being a vet would actually be like. Participating in this pre-vet intership allowed me to witness, and experience what a non-conventional vet career might entail. This internship was immeasurably informative, and provided a most unique 'inside look' into the life of a veterinarian who has a career that is remarkably expansive, diverse, and exciting. The experiences and knowledge I've acquired throughout this internship were incredible. I would strongly recommend this internship to anyone who has vet or medical school ambitions."

-- Patricia 2007 Intern

"While being a volunteer with OERS, I was exposed to a variety of experiences.  This opportunity has greatly contributed to my breadth of knowledge as a person as well as my understanding and concern for the world that we live in.  I had the opportunity to interact with a range of animal species from rats to a beluga whale." 

"This experience also exposed me to the many aspects of research, which is becoming increasingly important in the world of doctors and medicine for all species.  I was able to get involved in literature searches and paper writing as well as care of research animals and the experimental process.  The uniqueness of this experience allowed me to deal with current real world issues.  I also got to work with the members of OERS that not only have an understanding of animals but also of the realities of the professional and educational worlds today."

"They are extremely patient and dedicated teachers, more than willing to provide a hands-on experience to those who show interest and passion for their work.  Becoming a veterinarian in today’s world requires a diversity of quality experiences that can be obtained with great pleasure by joining the OERS family."

-- Ashley 2006 Intern

Research Internships

"At the time of my enrollment into the OERS biomedical internship,  I had come out of my third year of university with no clear designs for my future and only a basic understanding of the career of a research scientist. The internship seemed like a 'good idea' at the time for getting research experience, but I had learned more by the end than I could ever expected. There was, of course, the nitty gritty of churning out a research paper, from the forming my own idea to interpreting data and having a final finished product. With every step of the process, there were difficulties I had never expected, but also the development of essential skills that I learned over weeks, instead of years.

Beyond the actual research, however, was the exposure to the lives of researchers. It was there that I learned about both the rewards and challenges of real-world research, which has proven invaluable in guiding my future.  Looking back, the internship is more of a 'pivotal experience' and I'd recommend for any student in my situation."

   -Arthur 2008 intern

"The advantage of participating in the Advanced Marine Mammal Internship was the unique experience of understanding the complexities associated with marine mammal studies. The breadth of data gathering stretched far beyond the walls of the lab, yet with the guidance of my mentor, I was able to break it down into manageable parts and turned it into meaningful information. The whole process has ensured that when facing future research projects, I will have a better understanding of the nature of research on marine mammals, but also no matter the topic, be able to look at the data critically, and to report on unique and useful findings. I also realized how much more difficult it can be executing studies when working with the limitations marine scientists are frequently confronted with."

"There is definitely a great energy among the OERS members that makes everyone who participates in their internships feel welcome. They are dedicated, approachable and knowledgeable people, making sure that your experience will last you throughout your time as a research scientist!"

-- Ashley 2007 Intern

"The advanced biomedical intership program with OERS provided me with a compressed overview of what research is all about. As a well structured course, it involved things from literature reviews and formation of hypothesis to statistical analyzation of data and writing up a discussion. Instead of being spoon-fed like most of the undergraduate lab courses, scientific research requires critical thinking. This is exactly what the biomedical research internship is designed to do. Through feedbacks from the OERS instructors, I have improved my understanding of research substantially. But on top of that, it was a FUN and invaluable experience! I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who wish to pursue an academic career in science."

-- Andrew 2007 Intern

"This is a worthwhile experience, especially if you don't have a lot hands on experience in a lab. I found it to be very informative, and I worked with the best people with a lot of experience. I learned a lot
and couldn't ask for more, and I believe that this experience has prepared me for future studies in research.

-- Deniece 2007 Intern

"The advanced marine mammal internship program was a great opportunity to get hands on experience in the field of marine mammal research.  As an undergraduate student, I did not have a lot of experience in research.  The internship taught me how to first look at the literature to get a feel for the subject and then go on to formulate my own experiment and how to present my findings in a manuscript.  The OERS family was very helpful and informative.  It was an amazing learning experience! For any students planning of a future in research, this program is a must have."

-- Chelsea 2007 Intern



"This field course was an incredible experience and I would absolutely recommend it for anyone who is a little short on lab experience, as well as anyone who is undecided about whether to pursue further
studies in physiology beyond an undergraduate degree. This course can help synthesize what you have learned in textbooks for 3 years and gives a real life experience, instead of just looking at diagrams or
pictures on an overhead slide. It can help you truly understand physiology, instead of just memorizing it for a test, then forgetting it as soon as the test is over. I feel I have learned more about human
anatomy and physiology in these two weeks than in my previous 3 years of undergrad, and this wasn't even a human physiology course, it was a marine mammal physiology course! The small class size really allows you to get to know the peers and instructor in a way no other university course allows you to do so. I must commend Dr. Carin Wittnich for making this course the highlight of my undergrad career thus far. This course has inspired me to pursue surgery as a career option. If all university courses were like this, undergrad would be a much better experience! A truly unique and incredible learning experience!"

-- D. 2009                     

"An invaluable learning experience. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in anatomy and physiology. The instructor was great."

-- Robert 2008

"OERS F-500 was one of the most exciting and extraordinary courses I have ever taken. It is absolutely invaluable for everyone who would like to learn more about the anatomy of a living organism and the way it works. It provides an amazing opportunity to see the things the way they really are and gain unique hands-on experience in the field of applied physiology. This course and the great attitude and incredible energy of our instructor Dr. Carin Wittnich inspired me in many ways."

-- Svetlana Famina 2008

"This course has been an unforgettable experience. The opportunity for hands-on learning and the ability to see, feel and smell every part of this magnificent animal was incredible. It helped me immensely in learning about the anatomy and abnormalities of the California Sea Lion. The instruction was extremely helpful and we were allowed to dissect whatever we felt while being guided through the necropsy. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with or without a science background, as the amount that students learn is endless."

-- Student 2007

"I was looking for a taste of "in the field" scientific learning. I got a whole meal. The OERS F500 course was one of the best learning experiences I have encountered. We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - a necropsy on a 500lb bull sea lion. The chance to work in a small group with instruction from world-class experts, turned out to be two weeks of intense concentration and effort in an atmosphere of amazing team spirit. Yes, at times it got a little messy, but no group of students, ever had more fun. This course is what university learning is meant to be. The OERS team was supportive and challenging in just the right proportion. I would highly recommend giving it a try. It will open your eyes to some fantastic new possibilities."

-- A. 2007

"This course was amazing and thouroughly enjoyable! For anybody with an interest in physiology or just wanting to experience the thrill of dissecting, this course is for you!"

-- Jasdeep 2007

"Coming with an Evolutionary Biology background, I was astonished by how Marine Mammals are well adapted to the harsh environment they live in, and the variety of specific adaptations in each species. I thought I know a lot about Marine Mammals and that I admire their physiological adaptations, but it was only after taking this course that my true admirations arose. The amount of information I learnt in this course was so high that I can talk about different anatomical structures and physiological adaptations very confidently, though I had no anatomy or physiology background before taking this course, except EEB216 (Introduction to Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation)"

"You never know how much you admire something unless you know what it really is all about!! And you cannot appreciate Marine Mammals enough if you don't know much about their structure and how they actually function. I should not forget to mention the amazing feeling you get, when you see the anatomical similarities between them and other mammals (including us!) during dissection procedures, and how we all fit in the picture of life here on Earth: interconnected, interrelated, and all possess a unique and profound characteristic of life that is essential for our survival. I was able to experience this feeling and get a real sense of this thought more than anything in this course."

"I can confidently say that OERS-F500 was the highlight of my undergrad studies; not just because it was a field course, as I have taken other field courses, but because the way this course is structured with friendly, energetic and knowledgeable instructor and staff, who encourage you to bring up questions with no hesitation, and the amount of interesting material that is available for each student to learn, makes the whole experience of taking this course simply unique!"

If there is one suggestion I can give to my colleagues in any program (science or non-science), here at UofT, it would be this: 

"Don't graduate without taking OERS-F500 course!!”

-- Siavash Ganjbakhsh 2007

"The OERS summer field course offers an oppertunity of putting what you have learned in textbooks into practice." The anatomy of a California Sea Lion was put into context through seeing, cutting, and feeling. At the end of five full days of dissection, a necropsy report was developed through careful guidance. It encouraged both intellectual thinking, as well as cooperation among participating members. This once in a life time hands-on experience is rare even among veterinary students. But most importantly, it was "bloody" fun. A course strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in marine mammal physiology."

-- Andrew 2007

"I heard about this course (f-500) in a marine biology class Dr. C. Wittnich was lecturing. I became excited about the opportunity that not most courses in biology would offer me. I wanted to take the chance to dissect something that not everyone, everyday could dissect. I wasn’t so inclined at first being afraid of blood and guts but what the hey I did it anyways and it was the greatest experience I’ve ever had in my life!!!  I still talk about it till this day to my friend and I’m known is the mighty marine CSI and they think I’m just little bit twisted (cause I tell them how much I enjoyed the class).
We went through every bit and piece of the sea lion from head to toe wasting nothing at all while seeing and learning everything possible from systematic to anatomy to physiology. It’s very memorable and has helped me a lot in understand what textbook pictures couldn’t provide."

- M