Chilean student researcher embraces MI
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tomas Araya

Tomas Araya, Fisheries Engineering Masters student from Chile is visiting the Marine Institute's (MI) Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources (CSAR) for three months on a professional practice as part of his degree.

Since arriving in May, Araya has been working alongside the CSAR team to learn about various aspects of the centre’s work.

Araya attends the Pontificial Catholic University’s (the Pontificia Universidad Catolica) School of Marine Sciences (Escuela de Ciencias del Mar) in Valparaiso, Chile. His program consists of 60 semestral courses, two 50 day professional practices, a degree in Fisheries Science at the 4th year of study and finally thesis formulation and presentation. Once Araya completes his thesis presentation he will become a fisheries engineer.

While professional practices at his university are typically done locally, Araya obtained a government grant to cover travel costs so he could carry out his professional practice at MI.

“I chose to conduct my professional practice at CSAR for the infrastructure (flume tank), the professional staff, and the opportunity to improve my English and discover new places. The constant support of my guide teacher in Chile, Dante Queirolo, also motivated me to pursue this opportunity,” said Araya.

CSAR is providing Araya an immersive learning experience whereby he participates in and observes ongoing projects, including the centre’s recent project on the development of a modified beam trawl for the south coast of Newfoundland.

Araya’s thesis also happens to coincide with CSAR’s work on biodegradable twine. He is conducting laboratory degradation tests of natural fibers to be used as in crab traps to reduce ghost fishing in Chile. Each natural fiber Araya tests are done in a tank with seawater under controlled conditions. He then evaluates the change in physical properties or various biodegradable materials according to the time of submersion in seawater.

Since fisheries engineering is not a program offered at MI or MUN, the CSAR team has been learning as much from Araya, as he has from them. 

“As a fishing nation, Chile has a long and rich history in the sustainable exploitation of marine resources.  We are learning a lot from Araya and are pleased to have him join our team” says Dr. Paul Winger, director, CSAR.

With one month left, Araya will be participating in and observing all he can from the CSAR team.

“Working here has been an unforgettable experience. Every day I learn new things and I’ve been able to put the knowledge I learned over the past five years studying in Chile into practice.  One of my passions is fishing gear technology and here at CSAR you face it every day,” said Araya. “The staff is amazing and they have a strong willingness to teach. I am grateful for the good reception.”