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Marine Science & Technology Center Stranding Team Training at Highline Community College

MaST Center Alumni

Brianne Ankenman
Former Intern


As a native Washingtonian, Brianne grew up with an interest in its environment, and the creatures who resided in in. She came to the MaST Center after graduating with a B.S. in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University. Brianne's role at the MaST Center was as an Aquarium Biologist intern. She simultaneously interned at COASST, the beach bird organization of the University of Washington.  Her role as an intern was to aide in animal husbandry and aquarium maintenance duties, educate and engage the public on matters of the Puget Sound, and to design and conduct her own research project. This project was to track seasonal temporal distribution of plankton at Redondo Beach. In January of 2014 Brianne graduated from her stay at the MaST Center and was hired at the Seattle Aquarium as the assistant Aquarist on the Fish and Invertebrates (FIT) team. Seattle Aquarium made a phenomenal decision to bring Brianne onto their team as she is known throughout our facility to be a dependable, knowledgeable and friendly peer. We wish her all the luck and success in her future adventures!


Mikiko Williams
Former Aquarium Manager, Biologist, Graphic Designer


Mikiko was the MaST Center's lead aquarist and graphic designer from 2008 until 2013. She received her BS in Fisheries from Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan; however, she was not sure she wanted to be a scientist at the time. She then acquired her AAA in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Seattle, while working for an interdisciplinary design firm which hosted clients at zoos, aquariums, museums and parks. At the MaST Center, Mikko found a place where she could tend to both of her interests. Mikiko is also an AAUS certified SCUBA diver and spends a lot of her time in the water simply enjoying its inhabitants and taking photos of underwater life. Mikiko was awarded the position of Aquarist at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, where she will extend her experience in the marine world and further her knowledge with its species. She will be caretaking for species not only of the Puget Sound, but also the California coast and Tropical marine environments. We wish her luck on her new adventure, and know she will become a respected key member of the PDZA team, as she was here at the MaST Center!

Lila Jones
Former Volunteer

Lila graduated from Higline with an A.S. in the Biology program. “My time at the MaST Center was amazingly wonderful. Not only was I able to share my passion with others but it gave me the opportunity to truly explore my field. I learned so much about Puget Sound and fully realized that my lifelong dream of being a Marine Biologist was well within reach.” She left Highline in 2010 to earn her BS in Marine Biology from Hawaii Pacific University. After completing her Junior year at HPU, she was accepted to the SEA program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). She sailed from Key West to Jamaica, Cuba and back while conducting active research. She then returned to HPU to coplete her BS. When reflecting on her experience at the MaST Center, she says, “I will always remember my time at the MaST and the unique hands-on experience I gained. I have to give a big thank you to the teachers and staff. Without their encouragement and support, I would not be as well prepared for the next chapter in my education as I am.”

Adrianne Akmajian
Former HCC Biology Lab Tech., Founder of Marine Mammal Stranding Team


Adrianne worked as a Lab Technician for the Highline Biology Department and MaST Center from March 2010-January 2011. Adrianne was able to put the MaST Center in contact with NOAA in order to request the skeleton of the Gray Whale that is now displayed in our gallery. Not only did she play a vital role in the collection of the Gray Whale, Adrianne is also the founder of our Marine Mammal Stranding Team. With experience from WDFW and the MMSN, she was able to provide initial training to our original volunteer team, and implement supplies and procedures that are still used today. Adrianne now works for the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, WA as a Marine Mammal Technician and Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator. She researches marine mammals on the northern coast of Washington; primarily Gray Whales and Sea Lions.

Jacqui Silva
Lead Gelatinous Macroplankton Aquaculturist, Student Worker


Jacqui began working at the MaST Center in 2012. She replied to an ad in the local newspaper which was recruiting volunteers for the Jelly Team. She began at the MaST Center with little related experience and soon became head of the Jelly Team, as well as worked partime as a Work-Study student at Highline College. As Jelly lead, she oversaw all stages of development of our Moon Jellies, and managed their tanks, which totaled over 200 gallons of tanks. Jacqui graduated from Highline in 2015 with honors and an Associate of Biology. She now attends Western Washington University and expects to graduate in 2017 with a Bachelor's in biology (emphasis marine). She looks forward to studying the marine field in more depth and taking courses at the Shannon Point Marine Center, Western's marine science facility located in Anacortes. Jacqui's favorite marine creature is the Apodicthys flavidus (Penpoint Gunnel).