Marine biologist got her start at Victoria College
Kendra Hanslik
Kendra Hanslik

For a budding marine biologist, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., is one of the best possible places to be. Just a couple months after finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Kendra Hanslik has landed the kind of job that many people only dream about.

Hanslik, who grew up on a farm in Victoria, is also a Victoria College alumna.

In April she started her new job as a research assistant at the Marine Biological Labs. She’s now working on a project examining the DNA of neurons in sea lamprey to understand how they’re able to regenerate and repair injuries to their spine.

“I’m able to interact with a lot of brilliant minds and people who approach science in many different ways,” she says of her job. “I wanted this job so I could be in this type of environment and develop further as a scientist. A lot of Nobel Prize winners have worked here and other famous scientist who’ve had a huge impact.”

The 23-year-old Hanslik earned her Associate of Science at VC and transferred to UTSA where she graduated in December 2015 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.

Although she hopes to eventually earn a PhD, Hanslik plans to spend a few years working before she continues her education.

“I’m particularly interested in marine ecology, chemical ecology and marine biology. It’s a developing field right now with a lot of collaborations between chemists and biologists,” she says.

Before graduating Hanslik also worked on a project at UTSA’s Gdovin Research Lab developing an innovative, noninvasive cancer treatment that shows promise for a wide variety of cancers. The research attracted quite a bit of media attention just before she left for her new job.

“It kind of opened my mind to the impact my work in science could have on humanity,” she says.

Her instructors at VC also helped shape her decision to pursue biology. Dr. Sharon Hyak was one who had a big influence on her.

“She had so much excitement and joy in teaching science,” says Hanslik. “She always had a smile on her face when she walked into class and was so peppy. I wanted to have the fire that she had.”

Dr Hyak remembers that Hanslik stood out, too.

“She was so eager and ready to learn something new,” says Hyak. “She told me that her biology courses really opened her eyes to where she wanted to go, and I was happy to have a part in that.”

Published: Thursday, 12 May 2016

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