Olivia Lucia '25

Love for marine animals leads to internship
UNH student Olivia Lucia '25

Olivia Lucia ’26 is a marine, estuarine and freshwater biology major who is spending the summer caring for marine animals and conducting research as part of her internship at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. Below, Olivia talks to us about her responsibilities and how the experience has built up both her confidence and skillset.

The Airmont, New York native was able to accept the unpaid internship thanks to a stipend from COLSA’s SOAR Fund. The fund assists undergraduate students by providing stipends that may be used to supplement unpaid internships or pay for transportation to interviews and career events. The SOAR Fund accepts applications year-round. While all COLSA students are invited to apply, applicants with financial need are strongly encouraged.

COLSA: Tell us about your internship.

Olivia Lucia: This summer I am completing an animal husbandry internship with The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk in Norwalk, Conn. I am an intern in the temperate fish and invertebrates section of the aquarium. This includes taking care of stingray, multiple types of sand sharks, horseshoe crabs and various other types of invertebrates. My typical duties consist of daily diet prep, i.e. preparing the animals food for the day, cleaning their tanks by siphoning or scrubbing debris and algae, monitoring the water quality of these tanks, which means performing routine water quality tests, and doing water changes based on the outcomes of these tests. Overall, just making sure these animals are happy and healthy.

In addition, I also get to design and carry out a research project throughout my internship. For my project I am analyzing how our Atlantic Sturgeon's behavior is altered when put in their new touch tank home and when their sturgeon-to-human contact dramatically increases in a short period of time.

COLSA: What attracted you to the position?

Olivia: Taking care of marine animals is one of my many goals in life and seeing as I have very little experience taking care of marine animals, this internship was the perfect opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and get some hands-on practical experience and really understand all the parts it takes to properly care for marine animals.

COLSA: Looking back on what you accomplished as an intern, what are you most proud of?

Olivia: When I first started, I was very hesitant and uncomfortable performing almost anything by myself. Now I spend most of the day completing my diet prep, water quality tests and daily checks on my own and unsupervised.

COLSA: What was the most valuable thing you learned?

Olivia: I learned what the nitrogen cycle is and how much animal care is reliant on it. The nitrogen cycle also helped me understand how important water chemistry is in aquarium science.

COLSA: How has this experience impacted you?

Olivia: This experience has helped me understand how sensitive and water system is and how it can easily fall apart at the slightest change. It has made me extremely appreciative of all aquarists and all they do for their animals.

COLSA: Any advice for students looking for an internship?

Olivia: Do your research!!! You will probably surprise yourself with what's near your hometown or school. I found my internship by literally Googling aquariums near me and seeing if they offered summer internships. I applied for the first one I saw and got it! There are so many opportunities out there and you won't know if you try. So, go for it!

COLSA: Tell us something you love about UNH.

Olivia: I love all the opportunities there are for students like me. The classes and especially laboratories are also very hands-on and have already helped me so much in my internship.