Ms. LeahMarie Bukurou, who graduated from Palau Community College with an associates degree in Environmental/Marine Science, and a former Blue Bay Summer Program Intern, is now a full-time research assistant at Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC).
Two years after completing her summer internship program at PICRC, Ms. Bukurou joined the Center as a full-time employee in 2020. Starting as an aquarist, Ms. Bukurou later moved to the research department, where she now serves as a research assistant. “It has been my goal to work at PICRC ever since I realized I had a passion for Environmental/Marine Science. It is such a blessing to be given this opportunity,” stated Ms. Bukurou.
Ms. Bukurou’s interest in marine science dates back to high school, when she joined Palau Academic Institute for Research (PAIR) where she had her first experience as a laboratory assistant. After graduating from Palau High School, she joined Palau Coral Reef and Island Ecosystems (P-CoRIE), a collaborative project between PICRC, Palau Community College (PCC), and University of Ryukyus (UoR), as a research assistant. Later that summer, in 2018, Leah was accepted as one of PICRC’s summer interns where she developed a research project under the mentorship of one of the Center’s researchers. Ms. Bukurou then went on to complete her Associates of Science in Environmental/Marine Science at Palau Community College, where she also served as a laboratory assistant for one year.
The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) is committed to inspiring the youth into taking ownership of the resources that sustain Palau’s traditional way of life. It is with this vision that in 2017, PICRC partnered with Blue Bay Petroleum Inc. to develop a summer internship program that seeks to involve college students in marine research work.
“We are proud to be part of LeahMarie’s successful career as a marine scientist. She is a clear example of why we continue to develop outreach programs designed to increase the percentage of Palauan youth involved in conservation work.” expressed PICRC CEO, Yimnang Golbuu. “We hope that in the future, LeahMarie is able to continue her education and become one of PICRC’s researchers,” he added.