Holy cow we’re already in the back half of the internship! And things are only getting more intense, there is so much work to do! This week is focused on field work, field work, and more field work.
This past weekend, a handful of the interns and I went to Bandon! We checked out the local sites and tastes. Washed Ashore, an organization devoted to cleaning up the oceans, had an exhibit in Bandon we visited. Washed Ashore takes garbage from Oregon beaches and turns it into amazing artwork, bringing awareness to the masses of just how much garbage people put into the oceans. The artwork brings about one of those sad-happy feelings. The art is beautiful, but at the same time, it only exists because of how damaged our oceans are with plastics.
We spent the rest of the day running around the beach in Bandon, enjoying the incredible natural beauty Oregon has to offer. I’m so thankful to be here this summer, in such a beautiful place with beautiful people. To learn more about their mission: http://washedashore.org/
On Sunday, my parents came from Albany for a visit. I haven’t seen them since the internship started five weeks ago, so it was wonderful to see them and show them my research. They helped me retrieve my dried algae samples and helped me weigh them. Although my family has lived in Oregon for years, they have never been in the Charleston area before, and I was very happy to show them all the sites, from the labs all the way to Cape Arago.
Monday started out in a bad way. I had gotten my tide information wrong from the internet (don’t trust everything you read on the internet, folks) and I ended up not being able to travel to a sample site 1:45 away due to bad timing. I was feeling pretty down, but Jacob invited me to join him, Richard, Christina, and Leela at Lighthouse Beach to look for snail egg capsules. We ended up not finding any eggs, but I still just love exploring the intertidal. Saw some amazing plants and got a mini invertebrate zoology lesson from Richard. There is so much to learn from everyone here!
Tuesday and Wednesday I drove 1 hour 45 minutes each way to a few sample sites up north. The drive is long, but the Oregon coast is so beautiful that it didn’t even matter to me. The sites where I was sampling were so gorgeous and ethereal, I enjoyed every minute that I was scraping algae. The worst part of sampling happened after I returned to the lab with my samples: picking out the invertebrates that got brought back with me. It took so long to pick out the isopods, amphipods, polycheates, and friends, and most of them died as I took them out. However, Leela helped me, and she rescued dozens of isopods for her project! Overall, I’m really enjoying field work. It is also humbling as half of the time I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m really trying to be the best scientist I can.
At this point, I don’t know how my project is going to turn out. Six weeks ago, I would have been devastated to be told that my project wouldn’t yield significant results. I still don’t know if my project will, but I’ve accepted that failure is an important part of being a scientist. From failure comes more questions, and I think I’m learning that failure is okay, and failure is a part of the process.
One of the best parts about this program is the accessibility to amazing places to visit, not just for research, but for fun. Thursday night, for example, Kaitlyn, Christina, Nicole and I drove an hour south to Port Orford, which has a beautiful beach with rocky monoliths. During the past six weeks, I have been to at least 9 beaches along the coast, and every single one is absolutely beautiful. Exploring the Oregon coast is beautiful, and having access to the ocean is incredible. Nothing makes me feel so alive as being on the beach!
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.