Float like a volleyball player, sting like a bumble-bee researcher

Harrison Carmichael sits back in a chair in the sunny foyer of UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre. If he looks a bit awkward in this setting, it’s for a good reason: this may be the first time he’s sat still all summer. Carmichael is a third-year Biology student working on a summer research project; he’s also a setter on Prince Edward Island’s men’s volleyball team for the Canada Summer Games.

“Most days of the week, I’m in the lab in Charlottetown all day,” explains Carmichael. “Then I’m in Summerside that night to practice for the Games. Oh, and I volunteer at the hospital. This summer has flown by.”

As a researcher, Carmichael is working this summer with Donna Giberson on a project comparing the Island’s population of bumble bees with that of Cape Breton.

“We collect the bees from various sites around the Island, bring them back to the lab, freeze them, and mount them in the university’s collection,” he says. “We keep a record of what type of flower we found it on, where we found it, and what variety and sex it is.”

A student from CBU, working under UPEI adjunct professor Dave McCorquodale, is performing a similar study this summer on Cape Breton. They’ll compile notes for an eventual comparison of the two islands. 

Carmichael’s inter-provincial cooperative spirit ends, however, when he’s on the volleyball court.

“We can beat Nova Scotia, no problem,” he says with a confident grin.  “We’re the strongest team In Atlantic Canada. Our first game is against Alberta — they’re the toughest team in the country; I think we’ll give them a good game.”

That match against Alberta is 2 p.m., Monday, August 24th, in the gym of UPEI’s Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre. For more game times, check the Canada Summer Games 2009 website.

“Aren’t you going to ask me if I’ve been stung by a bumble bee?”  Carmichael asks at the end of his interview with the ORD Blog.  “Everyone else does. No, I haven’t. But I’ve been bitten by a ladybug. We have one variety of ladybug on the Island that bites, and I found it!”