Emily Stefansson, 18, Woodinville High School-ORCA senior

Shooting star: A future marine biologist, she conducted her own two-year research project tagging and mapping the movements of starfish. Spent her first year learning methods. “I tried marking them with colored yarn (at first). That didn’t work super well.” Now using a dyeing method learned from Friday Harbor researchers.

Diving in: Took a love of the beach and turned it into a passion for marine science through the pre-college Ocean Research College Academy at Everett Community College.

Research focus: The Pisaster ochraceus, or ochre sea star, species, which can be purple or orange. More purple than orange found in this region.

Not seasick: Also assisted on the University of Washington’s 274-foot research vessel, the Thomas G. Thompson, and Western Washington University Shannon Point Marine Station’s research vessel, the Anova.

Long weekend: Plans to spend five days around Memorial Day tagging and tracking starfish at Observatory Point in Anacortes. “There’s not been a lot of research in their movement and whether they have a set range or move around…”

Passion rewarded: Recipient of a $5,000 scholarship from the Youth Maritime Training Association. Also getting $3,000 over two years from WWU, where she plans to study.

Future plans: Hopes to find a research position, so will be looking for graduate programs. “I definitely want to be out in the field because that’s what I’ve enjoyed most.”

Priceless knowledge: “It makes it so much easier going into next year, knowing exactly what I want to focus on… It’s an exciting feeling.”

Service learning: Helped tag old wooden pilings treated with creosote for removal from Jetty Island. The preservative was used on docks before it was found to be toxic. “There are so many that have washed up on the beach and are oozing.” Has taken samples in different areas and found fewer algae species in areas of creosote-treated docks.

Busy, busy: Besides commuting to Everett each weekday for classes and further north for research, also been a member of Woodinville High School’s swim team since freshman year and played oboe for five years with Seattle Youth Symphony.

Advice to freshmen: “Stay focused … and just try to find something you’re interested in, even an outside activity, and pursue it.”

Know a super kid? Contact us as 425-339-3036 or e-mail schoolfyi@heraldnet.com.

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