It’s been another dreamy and productive week here at OIMB! There’s been crabbing, proposal writing in cafes, an awesome seminar on algae, late nights in the lab, foosball, a tuna BBQ, and of course, lots of baby chitons.
This week I’m really learning to see the forest for the trees. The last couple weeks I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off: trying to keep my adult chitons from escaping their containers (and the sea table), checking for eggs, taking care of my larvae, making quality images of them, keeping track of the developmental stages of each of the batches and all the projects I want to do with these different batches. (There are so many things to keep track of. And. Why is it so hard for me to make a good prep, and not smash everything?) It’s easy for me to get hung up on one little (big) part of it, like: what are the crystals made of? And what are they doing in there?!! Big questions that are not going to be easy for me to answer, but that I don’t need to be able to answer to do some useful work on this project.
We had to write a proposal this week, and that was extraordinarily useful in grounding me. I had a really productive conversation with Richard about my project, and it helped me gain some perspective on what I’m trying to do, and what is well within my means to do, even if I can’t answer some of the really big questions. At the onset of our conversation, I launched right into a long-winded, frantic explanation of all the projects I wanted to do or had tried to do, and he kindly prompted me to back it up and give him a more general statement of what I wanted to accomplish: to describe these novel structures. What would people asking about these structures want to know? What would I, as a student, want to know, if I was looking for information on this structure? Where are they in the animal? When do they develop? How long do they persist? How big are the whole structures? How big are the parts that make it up, and how many are there? What shape are they? All this comes down to describing the crystal structures in time and space and in the context in chiton development.
Hi readers! My name is Christina Ellison and I am a Marine Biology major in my senior year at the University of Oregon. I was born in southern California, raised in Utah, and have lived, worked, and studied in Salt Lake City, Ojai, New York City and Eugene. I am also a painter, and sometimes a writer and a dancer. Whatever else I may be, I try to be a liver first. I strive to foster a sense of connectedness to the world around me, and to open myself to the wonder that is life, and death, and change, and beauty in all its many forms. I am fascinated by marine life and processes, and by living things in general. I can become interested in most things if given enough background, and as I develop my own understanding and find a way to put myself to work. My work as a student has inspired a deep appreciation for both the diversity and unity of living things, and for the scientific process. I am not only a student to the facts, but to the process by which we come to regard them as such. I think the scientific process is the pure spirit of curiosity with the moral responsibility and the discipline not to get attached to any theory or outcome, or in any case, not to let our hopes, or our biases, interfere with the conclusions we draw from honest work. Ultimately, it is the process that facilitates our understanding of, and thus our relationship to, the world around us. My interests in marine biology remain very broad. I am interested in ecology and organismal biology. I like learning about how bodies work, how they interface with their environments, and how interactions between individuals scale up to inform community structure. I have also recently become interested in the life history of marine organisms.