Wow, another week gone by.
It is interesting: I feel like this week I have actually dealt with the most failure, and frustrating tasks (massive culture die off, lots of abnormal development, no new spawning events to speak of. and so a dwindling larval supply, missing trips to dunes to take pictures of disco balls, making tons of preps of larvae side by side on a slide in the same orientation without smashing them (sometimes), really ambiguous results, etc. etc.), but have had the most positive attitude about it.
It makes me feel like I am becoming slightly less of a baby scientist. Like maybe an early trocophore, maybe right around the time the crystals are forming. Whatever data I collect, whatever I manage to find out, I am learning how to deal with failure, with ambiguity, and with painstaking or futile-seeming work without taking it personally, without getting overly frustrated (again, sometimes), and without giving up. I am learning how to come up with ways to target specific questions or problems (mostly by talking to other smart, experienced people), and I am gaining tons of practical lab skills. Perhaps most importantly, I am learning the joy of exploration and discovery (well,…maybe…), the joy of indulging my curiosity, and working on something I feel really invested in and interested in learning more about.
Doing research helps me appreciate how ingenious and creative scientists have to be. Not just in conceiving of experiments that get at their questions, but a lot of times, in actually building and constructing various apparatuses that can be used to carry them out. Sometimes the clever part is in adapting someone elses’ methodology to make sense for what you’re trying to do, or following up your results with more tests to help rule out alternative explanations (after coming up with alternative explanations to begin with). This is mostly stuff I see other people do, but hey, that’s learning, ain’t it?
Anyway. I’m still just feeling around blindly in the dark, and it is a privilege to do so. As far as actual things go: I’m closely tracking the development of one batch and taking lots of pictures, in the process of doing the murexide test (finally) and about to see how many more solutions I can find that will dissolve the disco balls. Just kidding, I’m totally going to find one that won’t.
I’m having a lot of fun with this project. There are so many rabbit holes, so many ways to think about what may be going on, so many things to try, and, of course, so little time.
This week’s three:
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.