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When a unique hobby sparks lifelong commitment to advocacy

Marine Biologist and Science Communications Graduate Student, Jérôme Breton discovered a love for diving with sharks and wants to be an advocate for marine conservation

April 11, 2024 - At just 23 years old, Jérôme Breton has a degree in Marine Biology, experience working on research for the federal government, and is now at Laurentian University to round-out his skills as a science communicator. As a 12 year old, Jérôme started a unique hobby that would shape his academic journey and lifelong passion–on a family trip to British Columbia, he went diving with sharks. While most would view this experience simply as a unique excursion on family vacation, for Jérôme this experience became a calling. He was fortunate to get to spend the next few years diving around the world.

Naturally, Jérôme developed a love for the ocean through his hobby, and after graduating from high school in Gatineau, Québec, he went on to the Université du Québec à Rimouski where he earned a degree in Marine Biology. “While completing my undergrad, I was lucky to have an incredible work experience as a student giving and coordinating guided tours during the summers and as a biologist for invasive species, at the Department of Fisheries and Ocean Canada (DFO),” said Jérôme. “It was there that I got a feel for field work but also where I discovered the importance of science communication. The research was effortless because of the high quality of interactions between everyone involved in the work. I already knew that I wanted to advocate for aquatic ecosystems but after this I knew exactly how I could do that.”

Jérôme found out about Laurentian University’s Science Communications masters program, which would give him the chance to build the skills to not only advocate widely for aquatic ecosystems but also learn how to foster positive communication among research teams like what he had experienced in Rimouski. Laurentian University, with its proximity to home and the option to do his research in French and work with French professors, was the perfect fit for Jérôme.

Now half way through the program, Jérôme’s research centers around his experience working with DFO in Rimouski. “I’m diving deeper into the fishery industry in Rimouski because my experience there was so positive thanks to the way that everyone worked collaboratively. My research will use this example to create a framework of good working relationships within a given interdisciplinary research project that can then be applied to research centers and projects in other areas,” said Jérôme.

Motivated by his desire to create meaningful communication pathways between researchers and the public, Jérôme says that his “goal is to help people understand that we have so much knowledge about what is happening in our oceans, lakes, and rivers”. He wants to play a role in making research findings accessible to everyone, despite their background, in hopes he can help educate everyone about the importance of preserving aquatic ecosystems.