Lots of adventure this week! I got to channel my inner lizard and bathe on sun warmed rocks, see a thousand shades of green, swim under a waterfall, observe a washed up whale, and run around beaches and rocks and see lots of cool animals. I feel grateful to be in such an extraordinarily beautiful place, and to have met so many truly incredible people.
One of the coolest things about this week, and about this program in general, has been hearing from such a wide variety of people about their backgrounds and paths in science. The common denominator in all of these talks and conversations with people seems to be passion for their work, persistence and innovation in the face of problems, and openness.
Openness can come in many forms: being open to learn something different than you originally set out to (for instance, learning how many different ways something can go wrong, then (persistence) trying to figure out how to respond), to opportunities that arise. It’s allowing your work to evolve, and sometimes knowing when to give up on something, or switch gears.
And passion! Finding my passion has been a beautiful experience. I know I have it, but it’s a little diffuse, it spreads itself out over so many different topics and interests. Narrowing it down and cultivating a more specific scientific interest is a rewarding work. The more I learn, and the more time I spend doing science, the more I develop my own sense of the kinds of things I like to work on, and the kind of things I don’t. I think figuring out what I don’t like to do or are not interested in is just as instructive as figuring out what I do.
And finally, in case any of you wanted to hear about actual science, here’s what’s shaking out in the lab:
I collected some more chitons as a final effort to get more early stage larvae. We’re getting close to the end here, and I need to focus on wrapping up what I’ve got, but if I could get some more larvae it would be useful for really narrowing down the window of time that the disco balls appear, and it might give me a chance to do a function experiment. I’ve focused a lot on what the crystals are made of, and on trying to prepare them for confocal, but I think it would be interesting to try to test what they’re actually doing. I’m also trying to figure out when the disco balls disappear. Then of course, there is the business of sorting through everything I’ve got so far and seeing what it wants to tell me!
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.