The research experience here at OIMB was wonderful. I felt at home in this science village that’s tucked away in it’s own safe haven between forests and ocean. The Young lab, where I conducted my research, was a very motivating place to be, full agendas and plenty of experimentation. I feel more apt to be a part of the science community after seeing how much work and learning I was capable of in the Young lab.
On our last day here, we had our poster session. All of the interns presented their summer research, while standing in front of our greatly detailed posters we hand crafted ourselves. It reflected many hard hours of work, from new scientists who needed a little healthy investigation from professors who came by.
Having other scientists critique your work is both terrifying and also very beneficial. This is because the setup for the experiments was majorly up to me, so I had to make sure everything was up to par. I had a main question I was trying to answer, and had to research the exact ways to go about what I needed to find. I set up everything according to scientists who did similar research before me, while adding my own improvements along the way.
The intern pack stayed very tight throughout the summer, impressively so. We all had a great time, and OIMB provided a foundation for safe, fun and professional work.
Working in the Young lab meant having support at all angles, with a great push to do more with what we had. I learned there's almost no limitations with what all you can do if you have a good team, and divide work efficiently.
I want to thank OIMB and the entire community who was there to support my research, and was there to answer my many questions. Everyone has truly been so kind, and I believe I am a better scientists because of this summer experience.
Our research experience here at OIMB is coming to a close for the summer. We only have a week left, and there’s a big part of me that wants to continue working on this project. Luckily, I will be coming back to OIMB maybe as early as spring, and I am hoping there is space and time to continue on similar research projects.
I am also looking forward to coming back to visit all the wonderful people I have met here, and I hope to keep in contact with the interns throughout the years! There has been talk about visiting each other across states. I hope this is true,
This week has mainly entailed a grand buckle down of concentration. Even when I am working day and night, I find that there is so much room to improve on preforming efficiency.
I look forward to doing more research beyond the internship, this entire experience has me very excited for marine biology research!
This week we finally went snorkeling! We needed S. purpuratus adults, so we dove and captured some for the experiments! The visibility was outstanding.
I have been tackling some large projects, and in retrospect the final product should only require about a week or two worth of data, but the whole journey of refining my experiments to get polished, publishable data has been a grand task.
So here’s a pro tip- if you have to count a million larvae, have as many people on microscopes as possible. We started out our experiments by having only one or two people on a microscope and then running an assembly line, everything set up for the scope viewer, and all they had to do was call out what they saw.
“Another... Another ...”
Would be Craig, Matt and I calling out cell stages during data collections.
We found that with more helpers, suddenly, our work days were flying by in short hours.
I got most people on board with the idea of making slide preparation much faster, too. It felt like a great accomplishment. Dropping the amount of time we took picking out 50 larvae for a slide, and reduced the amount of slides we had to prepare. This time saver, combined with the improvement of distributing lab helpers around each task wound up making data collection days go from 12 hours to 1. This was great, especially when nearly everyone there was volunteering their time to be there and help, they also seemed so much more enthusiastic to help clean up afterwards when lab days were shorter!
This OIMB REU program has been a wonderful mix of scientific learning and I am coming out a better scientist because of it. My experience here has included building the important skills of assembling and directing teams of people, offering a happy attitude to spread throughout the lab, and making a professor happy with my work. I feel very fortunate to have had this experience, and can’t wait to apply my knowledge to future marine biology related work.
Lots of data
It is week six! I cannot believe how fast things are moving... We still have plenty of data to collect, organize, interpret… Meanwhile I am organizing data from all of our previous experiments. This is more data than I have ever seen in my life! It is both exciting, and intimidating. Fortunately there are so many intelligent minds around to answer my many questions.
It has been a steep learning curve for me to get my data in the *perfect* form so I could interpret it easiest. I also wanted the data to look clean so that when I went to show people the data and had questions, they would find it easy and visually appealing to look at... As a result, I had been nit-picking away at my data sheets every day this week. Craig sat down with me and discussed a great way to create graphs immediately so I could interpret data quickly. This was very helpful and I think I am getting more and more comfortable with asking my mentor how to format my information.
A Visual Person
The graduate students Caitlin and Lauren advised that I print out each of my histology graphs in a small 6-7 inch size, and then to post them up in whatever way helps me differentiate patterns and information between each data set. Perhaps one of the Biggest lessons I have learned here so far, is always ask questions, ask for advice… In fact ask so many questions that it is borderline annoying, seriously.
Hatfield marine science center
We visited the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon and the Oregon Coast Aquarium! It was very exciting to see their lab setups. Something that fascinated me was their extremely large algae cultures. Round open top aquaculture tanks well over 2000 gallons large. Then a room dedicated to multiple species of algae, all in a very sanitary set up. Massive clear cylindrical tanks lit up like a lab worthy of comics. I am still uncertain as to what they are using the algae cultures for aside from feeding.
Our trip to the lake was incredible this week! We took two full OIMB vans out to a beautiful lake with water so clear that when I was swimming I could see all the way down to my feet! There was a dune budding alongside the lake that you could run straight off of into the lake. We plan to go back next week!
“Work smarter… not harder” Allen F. Mogenstern, industrial engineer, and the Creator of the work simplification program coined this term around the 1930's. "The programs intent was to increase the ability of people to produce more with less effort". (Catherine Giordano author at Tough Nickel).
Relating to this quote, the smallest inventions and ideas in our scientific projects are turning out to be the biggest time saving mechanics, allowing us to do more in less time.
For some of the larger mechanical projects, we have been getting a lot of help from the maintenance crew here to aid in some of our engineering needs. Things like our chillers, pressure vessels, motors for stir racks, custom siphons and more... Creating tools within the wonder-shack of OIMB engineers and maintenance men has been such a huge help. Together we have created the perfect tools in aiding our projects, with lightning fast action
Shout out to James and Mike! Without them, our projects would not be possible!
The Data Collecting Assemblage
The data collecting army had been assembled this Friday, (7/19/19) and with about 12 people strong, we recorded about 4000 embryos in one day of the same two species we have been observing, Strongylocentrotus fragilis (Deep sea urchin) and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Common tidepool urchin). We recorded their cell stages, as well as their behavior and developmental patterns.
Our system is pretty great, there are two teams. One team works on the temperature tolerance experiment. Team two looks at the pressure experiment. The first person in line for each team is pulling embryos from viles, and preparing slides for the Person 2, who is observing each embryo under a microscope. Person 2 will then call out what stage the embryos are at, it's behavior, and any other notes such as present bacteria. Person 3, is recording this data, and person 4 is breaking down each slide to hand of clean slides for person 1 again. And the cycle continues on for many hours.
We are planning to keep the team together for the many more full days of data collection, in hopes of achieving our project goals. Our goal for the next two weeks is to have enough data replicates to draw accurate conclusions on the tolerances of these sea urchin species from embryo to larval stages.
R.O.V. Boat Trip!
Craig had invited Matt and I onto the boat for their R.O.V. (Remotely Operated Vehicle) expedition this week., and it was a blast. The seas were so calm it was almost unbelievable, no sea sickness at all! As a result of this, I was able to help out with nearly every aspect of manning the R.O.V., from feeding out the cable’s slack, controlling the cable speed, to driving the R.O.V. itself. We saw corals, many fish, sea cucumbers, a sea hare, so many species of algae, and more. I would be thrilled to be apart of the adventure I hope I can be apart of more deep sea trips in the future! See slideshow above and enjoy the journey!
Slowly but surely, more questions on my project are surfacing in my mind. That seems to be the way it works for me, I have to wait for thoughts to drift up from the deep, like migrating larvae coming up to feed in the photic zone of the ocean. On that note... I am still trying to prove whether or not my species Strongylocentrotus fragilis (fragile pink sea urchin) have the potential to vertically migrate towards the photic zone, or if they simply cannot tolerate such temperatures and pressures in the first place. Also we will still be comparing both sea urchin species to sea what differences lie in the larvae and adult urchin forms.
It seems that we have been sitting and reading too long the past couple weeks, so my lab partner and I finally decided to get a move on with our experiments. Matt is going around collecting shrimp skeletons from out the back of the fishery across the street for his detrital matter (turns out that detritus in the ocean attaches itself to marine skeletons before drifting to the sea floor), and I am in the process of another temperature experiment. I am being sure to pay particular attention to larvae left behind in the pipette or vials that we are conducting the experiment so we can get a true count of the mortality rates after each experiment.
Below is an image of one of our new and improved methods for counting the mortality rate of our sea urchin larvae after a 24 hour temperature experiment. We did not use this at first because the water would stay in place while you moved the device (rotating around its center). After my thought process combined with Craig's, I thought to fashion clay bits into the well of the plate, sectioning off 4 area for 4 separate larvae vials. The water fitted perfectly and I could quickly move through 20 vials of larvae, 400 larvae total.
Another spin on this second experiment, I have been seeing dead larvae this experiment!- Compared to the previous experiment, where I was only seeing live larvae, and not even the whole amount of 20 larvae that I intentionally put in the vials to begin with… So it’s looking like the first data collection was a trial run, which is just fine because we are getting exponentially more efficient with our experimental process anyhow.
Our methods improvement is helping motivate me to conduct more experiments. I hope to provide enough thorough information to draw the most accurate analysis as possible. Craig young’s lab is notorious for polished and finely detailed work it seems, I hope to live up to that expectation.
The community and social life here is still great, everyone in the internship seems to be getting along and we are planning another bonfire on the beach tonight! I really do love having such a supportive community, it makes times in between lab that much more enjoyable. Stay tuned, data will soon be analyzed, and we may have a sneak peak into some answers of my many questions!
It's the end of week three, I am eager to interpret the results of our latest data.
Updates: My lab partner and I have finally decided how to split up our research project! The both of us will be comparing Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (common tidepool urchin) with Strongylocentrotus fragilis (Deep sea urchin). Matt focusing on detritus diets, and me studying pressure and temperature tolerances on their early embryonic and larval stages.
The interesting thing about studying these tolerances is how it can relate to the possible zonation of this deep water species. Scientists want to know how certain species initially distributed into their current habitats by finding their upper limits of vertical distribution, and so, this research may yield potential data towards such hypotheses. A great paper on the hypothesis of environmental contributions that may affect zonation is one by Connell on “The consequences of variation in initial settlement vs/ post-settlement mortality in rocky intertidal communities”.
Temperature Experiment #1
What a process! Imagine this, you ran your experiment, ready to have your data documented, and at last minute you realize what it takes to record all the information in front of you. 800 larvae babies, nearly microscopic to the eye and we are to determine slide by slide a count of which larvae are dead or alive. I decided to look at the larvae initially at 4X magnification to get a general count, and then to zoom in at 10X to watch each larvae until I saw it start to swim, its cilia moving, or even just wait for its stomach to pulse.
This was a difficult task, but a healthy process for the mind. It gave me a taste of learning to be very precise with my data, and a means of real scientific observation. It reminds me of the many hours studying mathematics; how simple life is when you are doing repetitive tasks, with little room to worry about anything else.
U.O. Campus Tour
The REU group toured a neurology lab in Eugene on Saturday. It’s great to see into other labs other than marine biology so you can attain new perspectives on other research studies.
4th of July
We all went camping in Cape Arago, a wonderful adventure! The SPUR interns from the UO campus came down to camp with us as well. We played an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee near the beach, it was tied almost the entire game up to 13 points!
A brief review our experiments in further detail: Our goal is to determine the pressure and thermal tolerances of the larvae of Mytilus edulis (common mussel), Strongylocentrotus fragilis (deep-water sea urchin), and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (common tide-pool urchin).
We began with a temperature gradient experiment, (Fig. 1.) which uses an aluminum block with wells drilled perfectly into a 4x10 grid, in which individual larvae will be placed within a vial. Water circulates through each end with warmer water on one side, and cold water on the other side. The contrasting water temperatures meld ever-so-gracefully into a nearly perfect temperature gradient, like a modest imitator of the ocean’s natural temperature gradient. With this, we can gauge the thresholds for early embryonic development and later larvae of deep sea and intertidal larvae!
Sometime next week we’ll begin with getting the pressure vessels (Fig 2.) up and running to test the tolerances of larvae under pressure up to 200 atm (1 atm = 10 meters ).
For a third project we hope to answer another big question for deep sea larvae: Can they survive by feeding on detritus? This might be the primary food source available to larvae that drift across the ocean floor. It had been hypothesized that larvae could drift across the sea floor but there was little evidence of it until our lab discovered large numbers of larvae in the bottom layers near a methane seep. This raises questions. If that is where the larvae were primarily found, then they may also be sustaining themselves on whatever is on the floor (which would be detritus), unless the larvae migrate to a different depth to feed.
Detritus is made of dead animals, phytoplankton or fecal material that sinks to the sea floor from the upper water column. It would be very interesting to see if an organism could rely on such a diet and go through its entire embryonic and larval development purely off a detritus diet.
For this weeks group activity, the interns has our first boat trip on the magnificent Pluteus! I’m new to the open ocean. I hope I will eventually get my sea legs, because inevitably, I will wind up being on a boat one way or another with a degree in marine biology!
On Wednesday, we attended an interesting seminar in the boat house by Aaron Galloway. He spoke on his recent Antarctic mission of discovery in which his lab investigated the diversity of algae and invertebrates on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was both fascinating and entertaining with a splash of comedy.
As I was sitting there at Aaron's seminar I noticed an old upright honky tonk piano... Later in the day I managed to sneak over and break out in a honky tonk blues until sunset. It was a peaceful place to be, with a lovely view. The boathouse has large old windows facing directly to the bay. A lantern hangs from the window, providing this unique white wooden coastal feel. To add to the beach life, our group has procured not one, not two, but three ukuleles, and a classical guitar. We’ve been regularly jamming in the common area and clumsily picking away at different summer tunes.
How exciting to have the opportunity to possibly answer questions no one has answered before! Things I have to consider when doing experiments are things like, "How can I prevent non-demonic intrusions?”... "What time span is most realistic for each experiment?" and "How might the digestive systems of larvae living on the bottom differ from those that are found more in the photic zone?". As my lab partner and I progress through the scientific process, our research projects are beginning to become more focused. We are learning that science includes a lot of tinkering, and creative ingenuity.
Hello! I am Kaylee Wilkinson, so happy and honored to be here. First off I just gotta say, all the interns are wonderful and super friendly! I am getting super amped in hopes of a rockin’ experiment here at the “Exploration of Marine Biology on the Oregon Coast” program led by Maya Watts and Richard Emlet at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. My heart is blooming like a marvelous feather duster coral whose awaited its first plankton all day long.
You should know that I have almost too many hobbies - I write poetry, and slam. I am often ‘overly expressive’ with my choice of words, please, just go with it ! Also, I love playing jazz piano and singing, I also make wearable special FX art! (Visit merpeopletails.com to check out some of my work!) And on top of all of this I am both a professional mermaid, and aerial silks dancer.
Beyond hobbies, my truest ambition is to be a marine biologist. These aspirations developed when I was very young. I was influenced by a lot of non-fiction books like Alien Ocean by Stefan Helmreich, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and certain idols like Jane Goodall.
I heard of the OIMB program through my advisor Melissa Kilgore. We toured the campus together a few months ago and I thought the campus was a beautiful, quiet place to focus on research.
My lab partner Matt and I are planning to conduct several research experiments, all of which we are very excited to get going into full swing. This first week we sat down and had a casual discussion with our mentor, Dr. Craig Young on what he knows so far about deep sea larvae. We hope to better understand their feeding and reproductive habits.
During our initial experiments we happened to have spawned a Strongylocentrotus fragilis (Fig. 1) i.e. the ‘fragile pink’ sea urchin, we proceeded to fertilize it (Fig 2.).
This particular species of deep sea urchin has a larval development that has yet to be recorded. In fact little is known about the species at all, so the graduate students, Dr. Young, and ourselves are overwhelmingly excited to be conducting such research on our very first few days being here.
In the Young lab, Matt and I work alongside a wonderful pair of graduate students, Lauren and Caitlin. They have been there every step of the way while we think our way through guided experiments, and record larval stages of deep sea urchins. We have been taking images of the entire developmental process with a compound microscope that has a camera attached for easy photography.
We have also been working with a Flume device which we intend to use to compare the chemosensory of sea urchins. Our original research plans seem to be changing everyday this week after we successfully fertilized Strongylocentrotus fragilis. Now we have great plans of experimenting with early embryo and larval stages of the fragilis species under various pressure and temperature variations using machines designed by Craig Young himself with the assistance of a few engineers.
The community here at OIMB has been especially welcoming and helpful so far, nothing but smiling faces and plenty of things happening, so there’s never a dull moment. Everyday there is a field trip of some sort rather it be between students or the labs, and they usually are very welcoming of others to tag along on their expeditions. I am eager to see what is next here at OIMB!
My name is Kaylee Wilkinson, I am both a student, and am currently employed by Lane Community College in their wet lab for marine biology research. I serve as a coral husbandry assistant and tank-scape artist. I enjoy sciences where you can dive into the "unknown", being in Craig Young's lab is perfect for such interests. I am thankful for Dr. Young and his graduate students to have taken me in as an REU intern this summer, they have been very enjoyable to work with!