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Work

From customer service to educator, Wanda has dived deep into the workplace always eager to grow and learn from each experience. 

They don't need to swim all the time in order to breathe. Instead, these sharks can actually open and close their mouth forcing water to enter their mouth and flow into their gills. This method is called buccal pumping and they do it while laying still over the bottom.

Interested in a fun fact about

the Caribbean reef sharks?

From volunteer to educator

More than 10 years ago, while she still was an undergrad, Wanda became a volunteer at Sea Grant Puerto Rico. How did that happened? After working as a waitress, food runner and outdoor food vendor, Wanda was determined to find a volunteer position or a job where she could learn and grow within her desired field (marine sciences). And she did! 

MARINEEDUCATOR

After completing her internship with the Disney College Program in Florida, she went back home and payed a visit to Sea Grant Puerto Rico. There she met Migdalia, María "Cana", Cristina, Delmis, Ruperto "Chapa", Yulissa and others. They were very kind and welcoming. Wanda started working as a volunteer at the Sea Grant College Program of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez almost same month she visited the office for the first time. This was way back in 2012. During her time as a volunteer she performed several tasks such as assisting at the printing office and the former library of the program. She also attended several educational activities assisting the educators and learning from them before starting to become one herself.

 

A year after, Wanda started working as a student employee performing the same tasks she did as a volunteer among a few more. She wrote a few articles for the program's magazine Marejada, revised a series of fact sheets that were published back in the 80's (this is still an ongoing project), helped create a digital library catalog and digitalized some photographic and historical work of the program. Later, the library became the educational centre of the program and the working space for the educators.

 

In September 2023, Wanda became an independent contractor of the program. Alongside her supervisor (Delmis) and coworkers (Khrystall, Ángela, Héctor, Doris, Juliebeth and Lauryn), Wanda writes and edits educational materials. Together they make a well-rounded team –each with our their scientific background and tons of creative input– that creates hands-on resources that ultimately deliver an exquisite learning experience. Furthermore, they all offer talks, workshops and trainings from a diversity of marine-science topics to school teachers and students of all ages. As of today, Wanda also works as an educator for Little Women, Big Sharks, but more of this later (scroll down this page to the section of Executive Director).  

For more information about Sea Grant Puerto Rico and what they do, visit seagrantpr.org .

Working at Sea Grant Puerto Rico 

MARINESCIENTIST

From micro to macro

While working for a few semesters as a teaching assistant (Biology I, Biology II and Microbial Ecology laboratories), Wanda completed a Master's degree in Marine Sciences. She has also, participated and collaborated on research projects, and worked as field technician as well.

Wanda's interest in living things spans across all 3 taxonomic* domains*: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Her genuine curiosity from a scientific scope, particularly for the microbial world and animals, led her to complete a dual degree in Biology and Industrial Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. A few semesters before graduation, she also took a couple courses that were later approved as credit hours of coursework for her Master's degree. At the Department of Marine Sciences of this same institution, Wanda enrolled in the Biological Oceanography program to get her Master's. Her project was based on developing educational resources that would inform locals about the shark species of Puerto Rico. These resources are in the editorial process and will be published by Sea Grant Puerto Rico soon.

 

Project title: 

DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES ABOUT THE SHARK SPECIES (INFRACLASS: SELACHII) OF PUERTO RICO AS A GATEWAY TO INFORM THE LOCAL PUBLIC

Wanda's graduate committee members were:

  • Juan J. Cruz Motta, PhD (Chairman)

  • Nikolaos Schizas, PhD (Professor)

  • Edwin "Omi" Rodríguez Class, PhD (Mentor since undergrad)

  • Ruperto Chaparro Serrano, MA (Director of Sea Grant Puerto Rico)

 

During her Master's, Wanda was able to take shark specialized courses and trainings, as well as to participate and collaborate in research projects with NOAA* and HJR Reefscaping among others. She also had the opportunity to perform and lead necropsies* on DOA* sharks from fishing practices and sharks that washed up dead on the beach (in order to determine cause of death) in collaboration with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico, under the MM Program and supervised by Grisel Rodríguez Ferrer and Yamitza Rodríguez Ferrer. Furthermore, Wanda won a MISS Elasmo fellowship, which allowed her to do an internship at the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, where she had the opportunity to further her knowledge and experience while learning about –and working with– sharks alongside an amazing staff. Her interest in Microbiology never faded, and she looks forward looking into the shark's oral microbiome in the near future. In the long run, this could have interesting pharmaceutical as well as both theoretical and clinical applications for treating shark-bite victims. As of today, Wanda is a well-rounded field technician that enthusiastically enjoys long days in the field (rain or shine) doing surveys, tagging, measuring and sampling sharks. She's always learning and looking for ways in which she can practice the many bits of knowledge she has gained along the way.

For more information about Wanda's work, feel free to download her CV.

Here are some of Wanda's research interests:

  • Sharks' oral microbiome diversity for pharmaceutical  and clinical applications

  • Diseases in sharks

  • Physiological stress response in sharks

  • Stable isotope analysis across different tissues of sharks

  • Elasmobranch diversity of Puerto Rico

  • Stock assessments and development of management strategies for shark fisheries in Puerto Rican state and federal waters

  • Essential shark habitats

Want to

work together?

Send her an

email!

Being a marine mammal went something like this... 

EXCECUTIVEDIRECTOR

From an idea to the real deal 

Little Women, Big Sharks was envisioned as Wanda's goal for a very long time. She founded this company with the purpose of creating a gateway through which she could share with others everything she has learned about the sharks and rays of Puerto Rico.

Wanda is the small-business owner of Little Women, Big Sharks LLC (LWBS). She also performs as the executive director and an educator of this company. Alongside, Adriana Pérez Rivera (vice-president and educator) and Angélica (educator), Wanda does her best to provide an unforgettable learning experience. The services that Wanda provides through Little Women, Big Sharks are intended for any Puerto Rican eager to learn about sharks and rays. Also, this company is specially designed to help Puerto Rican females to find their way into studying sharks. This is our most important move, as local women are often marginalized from the shark-science community and, thus, struggle to make their own way into achieving their dream of becoming shark scientists. 

 

For more information about Little Women, Big Sharks and what they do, visit littlewomenbigsharks.com .

Here are some of the services Wanda provides through her company:

  • Providing free-access to informative and educational resources

  • Hosting educational tables and exhibitions at no cost

  • Offering talks (charlas) at no cost

  • Low-cost workshops (also courses and summer camps coming soon)

  • Translation work (English to Spanish and Spanish to English)

Interested in either of

these?

Send them an email!

To education and beyond

*Glossary

  • domains - Highest taxonomic rank (classification) of all living things.

  • DOA - short for "dead on arrival".

  • necropsies - Dissection and examination of a dead organism.

  • NOAA - short for "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration".

  • taxonomic - From the word "taxonomy", which is the scientific branch that works with the classification of all living things.

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