After these first weeks, OIMB is beginning to feel like home. I have become accustomed to and comfortable with everyone’s alarms in the morning, the 7 am breakfast bell, the smell of fish wafting up from the docks, and living with a group of amazing and inspiring scientists. Although the research we’re all doing is extremely valuable, making these connections with other future scientists is exciting and humbling. Being surrounded by these wonderful people inspires me to be a better scientist myself!
Last Saturday we went on a dredging trip on the R/V Pluteus, which means we were going out to depths of around 200 ft and then scooping up rocks and animals from the bottom to observe. On our first dredge, we pulled up sea cucumbers, huge sea stars, and even a cute little octopus, who promptly inked all over the cooler we put him in. I was feeling a little bit seasick on the way out to the dredging site, but once I began trying to look at the fascinating invertebrates, I got very ill and promptly vomited mid-sentence.
This week, my research went great! I finished the first phase of my project, analyzing images for vegetation and surf zone width. I found a neat correlation between surf zone width and vegetation density that will be the basis for the rest of my project.
Now, I’m moving on to the next phase. I’ve been reading a lot, and with the help of my mentor Alan, formulated the next step for my project. I am planning on going to the sites I analyzed in the past weeks and collecting algae from 25 cm x 25 cm areas and weighing it, then drying it 24 hours in an oven and weighing it again. This method will allow me to get field data for the density of the vegetation.
Friday I did my preliminary sampling at South Cove. Waking up at 5 am for the 6:07 am low tide was difficult, but it was a beautiful, calm morning to do sampling. This first sampling day was to figure out what protocol I’ll have for the rest of my project, i.e. how to sample, how to process the samples, how much time it'll take at each site to get the data I'm wanting. My 10 initial samples were weighed wet and then put in the oven to dry for 24 hours. It’s very exciting to be able to plan and execute my own experiment!
Inspired by OIMB's Aaron Galloway, I created Twitter account for "professional media" where I'll be posting more regular updates on my project and scientific banter. Follow if you're inclined: @conser_elena
Everyone has something they're passionate about: running, video games, dogs, etc. For me, I've always been passionate about learning, and not just in a going to school way. Learning, talking, thinking, sharing, reading. Here at OIMB, I am surrounded by an environment saturated with ways to learn. This summer I'm going to take my passion and apply it to the ocean.
I am entering my third year at the University of Miami (Florida), majoring in Marine Science, Biology, and Applied Math. To be very honest, going into college, I had no idea what it really meant to be a marine biologist, or really why I wanted to study marine biology other than it seemed really cool. I didn’t know what I wanted to study, or even if being a marine biologist was my end goal. I decided to volunteer in a lab specializing in biological oceanography, just because I knew the researcher, and I became hooked. Because of my introduction to biological oceanography in that lab, I am interested in how physical processes in the ocean work alongside biological phenomena, and the interaction between the physical and biological worlds.
This summer, I wanted to do really learn and understand what it's like the actually study marine biology in a professional setting. I began browsing through countless REU and internship programs, trying to find one that aligned with my interests. When I found the OIMB REU, I knew it was the one I wanted to do. My mentor, Alan Shanks, is someone whose work I have known about, and whose interests are quite like my own. As an added cherry-on-top bonus, the REU is in my home state! As much as I love Miami, I want to learn more about the ocean and rocky environments on the west side of the country. I hope that having an opportunity to pursue personal research, formed around my personal interests will allow me to understand the reality of being a research scientist and motivate me to continue on this path.