BY EMILY McAULIFFE Since graduating from Trinity’s Foundation Studies program, alumna Sashini Fernando has returned to her home country of Sri Lanka to undertake ground-breaking research in yellowfin tuna conservation. Having grown up in a family that exported fish for a living, Sashini Fernando has always had a good appreciation of the fishing industry. But one thing in particular caught her attention as she completed her studies – the disposal of reproductive organs. ‘During my graduate diploma in reproductive sciences at Monash University, we were learning about the conservation of different species and the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART),’ says Sashini. ‘I started thinking about how we can use ART for yellowfin tuna in Sri Lanka, where this species makes up more than half the nation’s catch. I started researching case studies from Japan where they have been successfully using ART and artificial insemination for bluefin and yellowfin tuna to source the growing sashimi industry.’ Sashini’s research led to the creation of the yellowfin tuna fingerling initiative FCP@SEA in Sri Lanka, which Sashini heads up as chief sustainability officer. The project aims to release a second generation of yellowfin tuna – reproduced using ART – into optimal locations for survival, based on satellite imaging. The team hopes to release 20 million fingerlings by 2020. ‘This project aims to increase the recruitment rates of Sri Lanka’s yellowfin tuna, which means more fish have the chance to become sexually mature and spawn naturally,’ says Sashini. ‘Since yellowfin tuna is a highly migratory species we expect the project will contribute to the entire marine ecosystem by conserving the population.’ TRINITY TODAY 33 A fishy tale FOUNDATION STUDIES ALUMNI in San Francisco fashioned from tea leaves; a portrait of Ai Weiwei using 100 000 sunflower seeds. Many of her acclaimed projects are documented in quirky and highly shareable videos. More than simple promotion, Red sees the recordings as an extension of her work; they illuminate the process and highlight difficulties, effort and problem solving. In one, she defeats legendary actor and martial arts king Jackie Chan in a chopstick duel, telling him her secret is practise, having dealt with 64 000 chopsticks to make his 60th birthday portrait. Red recalls nearly missing this impressive CV opportunity (both the fight and the portrait) when, caught up in Chinese New Year celebrations in 2014, she didn’t respond to the unassuming email from an art director asking her to do a portrait for ‘his boss’. It wasn’t until a later email arrived that she realised the boss was Jackie Chan. ‘He was wonderful to work with,’ she recalls. ‘Very much like his on‑screen character … funny, talkative, very charismatic.’ Red Hong Yi, named one of the 11 world art entrepreneurs you should know. Friend of the Sea presented Sashini Fernando and her team an award for their commitment to yellowfin tuna conservation in July 2018. Actor and comedian Ronny Chieng (TCFS 2004) starred in one of 2018’s biggest box office hits as Eddie Cheng in Crazy Rich Asians. Shalini Kunahlan (TCFS 2001) was named this year’s rising star at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) for her impressive marketing efforts at Text Publishing. The Trinity College Foundation Studies program sits within Trinity’s Pathways School and helps international students access the University of Melbourne’s world-class education. The program has supported almost 20 000 students since its inception in 1989. MORE FS ALUMNI STARS