Hello readers! Everything I will be putting on the poster is now done, yay! I won’t say it was an easy process, but it is super fulfilling to be done. I feel incredibly accomplished and proud of myself for completing a research project.
This week was pretty monotonous, though. 90% of this week was working on data and putting it on a poster. Lots of podcasts/music and looking at a screen. Much of research, I’ve learned is looking at a computer screen. Much of my personal research, too, was looking at pictures of isopods. As much as I love isopods, looking at so many of them in such a short timeframe gets a bit overwhelming. Once again, thanks to help from my lovely colleagues I was able to get it done in time and some of it I was even able to run statistics on!
My results were the complete opposite of what I had expected, however. It was a tad disheartening to not see the results I wanted to see, but that’s all part of science. I always say that a negative or insignificant result is still interesting and while that is very true, it is still hard to follow my own advice. My mentors are very encouraging, however, and got me to think about alternative explanations for what I saw. It was a quick project that was run short, so in the timeframe I had I would say the results are still pretty cool!
Each summer OIMB holds the annual ‘invertebrate ball’ where the students get to dress up as their invertebrate of choice! Some of the REUs decided to go as a salp chain (this week’s species of the week). We made quite an entrance as we were physically stuck together as salps would be. Turned out to be a very fun night of dancing with some fun inverts!
This week is a short blog, as most of what I was doing was summed up in three words: looking at screens. This next (and last!) week consists of ending and cleaning up all remaining projects, doing a poster session for the community at OIMB, and some outreach for the community of coos bay. So on that note, I will see you next week for the last time!
This week is going to be a bit different. Due to fast approaching deadlines, I got too distracted with trying to finish all my experiments and didn’t write my blog as my week went. As such, I have no idea what I did each day, so I’m going to give you all a long mess of what generally happened this week, enjoy!
I knew that posters were due soon, but we all didn’t realize how soon that really was. I have to wrap up all experiments I want to get data from to put on my poster and analyze it by next Monday (edit: it got extended *whew*. A draft is due Wednesday and the final draft due Friday. This gives me enough time to actually get data!)
On my list to do is end my light experiment, which will require getting pictures of all the isopods and stage their chromatophores. I realized my other chromatophore experiment I was going to do doesn’t really make sense, which is unfortunate I realized so late. I might still do it, but I need to revisit the plan (with all of the time I have) and make sure I’m actually testing what I want to test. However, I looked at a paper I had looked at in the beginning of the program and the author had looked at diurnal changes in chromatophores. Seeing as I’m keeping my isopods in artificial light patterns, I thought it could be interesting to see if they will have a similar response. This means I have to come in every 3 hours for 40 hours straight. Is it possible to be too committed to your job? (edit: Well, I didn’t last the whole 40 hours. I made it about 30, which is still pretty impressive. Word of advice, if you need to do a timepoint experiment get help or you will be forced to sleep in 2 hour increments for 30 hours.)
On a better note, I started a diet experiment with the babies! The set-up is amazing, a huge improvement from what I did with the light experiment. It’s much more organized; the only problem is the babies are small and they are hard to see on the black background. I won’t get results while I am here, but they will come!
The poster is coming along as well. I really like making posters, it indulges all my aesthetic needs. It is really fun to put all of your work together concisely in one spot, and make it look really neat and pretty. It is going to feel really satisfying when it’s done; to actually see all the work I’ve done completed and in one spot.
That’s the recap! This weekend is crunch time. The program is coming to a close, and thus everything in my experiment is rushing to a close. This time next week, posters will be done and experiments will be over. On that note, I will see you next week!
Welcome back! Coquille river falls was AMAZING. I have not seen many waterfalls in the US, so it was incredible.
Here’s a recap of my week.
This morning I went out to lighthouse beach for tide pooling with Richard Emlet and a couple of the interns. The tide was super good, too good to pass up! Once we got back, I prepared some food to feed the isopods, then got some food myself. After lunch, I got the help of another wonderful intern Elena to help clean and do water changes on all the isopods in the experiment. After treating her to coffee for her help, I helped out some another intern making her diets, listened to some phantom of the opera, fed my isopods, and started making my poster.
This morning I got to go out to the mudflats for the first time! We were out looking for a specific worm, which looks like a bunch of other worms to my novice eyes. While I enjoy the rocky intertidal, I must say that mudflats really have my heart. There was a very small bed of seagrass and I got so excited! I helped process some of the worms back at their lab, then went back to mine to do a bit of work before lunch. After lunch, Elena had a ton of isopods hidden in some algae she had collected that I brought back, so I might have enough isopods to start a diet experiment! It won’t be done in time to present it in the poster session, but I can still get the data anyway.
This morning was pretty quiet, did some house cleaning as usual. This afternoon we talked with the grad students on advice for getting into grad school, then to some faculty on what they look for in a grad student. So far this has been my favorite and most beneficial Wednesday afternoon development session. I know very little about actually applying to grad school, so it was so incredibly helpful to hear from both current grad students and advisors. It makes me both excited and really nervous to eventually go to grad school, but I honestly can’t imagine another trajectory for my life so it will happen!
Today is a busy day, a full post-it note busy day. The morning consisted of preparation for protein and carbohydrate analysis of different diets for my lab mate and fellow REU Zade’s project. We ran into some problems along the way, and by the end of the day we unfortunately didn’t have data, but hopefully by tomorrow we will! The process took longer than expected (silly Leela, don’t you know science takes double the time you’d expect?), so I couldn’t get too much else crossed off my list. There was some headway on a feeding trial though! There a ton of babies in the lab currently, probably enough to have enough replicates per diet! It will most likely run past my time here, but still exciting!
That’s the recap! This weekend the REUs are headed to Newport aquarium and Hatfield marine center which I anticipate is going to be amazing. See you all next week!
Welcome back! Readers…we have take off. The experiment has begun!
Here’s a recap of my week.
Species of the Week:
(possibly) Cancer productus
Saw this little one out at lighthouse beach. They have this color for quite a bit of their juvenile life, until they get bigger and resemble the classic red rock crab.
Once again, the light experiment is going, finally! I am going to run it as long as I possibly can, which unfortunately may only be 3 weeks. What I may do is pause it to take ‘final’ data for the poster, but let it run even longer. Now my week is going to be processing all the pictures and inputting all the data, which is a heftier task than I realized. I got all the beginning chromatophore stages staged, now I need to get color and length of all the isopods.
I ran into some problems with getting a color. Due to the nature of cameras, my pictures don’t have the same brightness, which is somewhat fixable, but there’s some aspects of cameras and pictures which alter the pictures in a way I can’t find out/don’t know how to fix. I can’t really do anything about it, unfortunately, but try to correct them enough and get the same standard across all pictures. Realizing this data wasn’t going to be as reliable as I wanted was a bummer, but there’s not much I can do. Nonetheless, I will get the data and see what comes of it!
Baby update: they are still alive! I don’t think I will end up using them, as they are too small to get a color on them in a consistent way.
Wednesday morning was spent attempting to troubleshoot some of my picture problems (surprise, it’s still a problem). I prepared a bit for my 10 minute presentation to the other REUs in the afternoon, then I was off to learn about writing CVs. I’d written resumes for longer than I can remember, but CVs are a bit different. I struggled for years trying to condense everything I wanted to say into a page for a resume, so I was very delighted to hear a CV can be, in theory, infinitely long.
Most of today was spent on OIMB’s research boat observing Aaron, Julie, and two other OSU folks dive. It was a very smooth dive, and it makes me really inspired to get certified so I can one day dive as well! Hearing about everything they saw made me jealous and want to be down there myself. Due to the sickness I had on the last boat trip, I loaded myself with medicine which ended up making me too drowsy to be productive. So in short, Thursday was not as productive as hoped.
Everything in the experiment is running smoothly enough. I’m still having trouble with the bubblers, so getting air to the isopods has been tough but it just requires constant readjusting of the hoses so they are perfectly in the water, but otherwise not too bad. I lost one isopod that managed to climb out of its container, but so far he’s the only casualty. Like usual, the afternoon is mostly meetings. Another grad student defended her master’s this afternoon that I got to see as well.
That’s the recap! This weekend the REUs are going to coquille river falls, but other than that is a pretty calm weekend. See you all next week!
Welcome back! Last weekend was very productive, pretty much all the set-up is done!
Here’s a recap of my week.
The REU’s have research proposals for our projects due this Wednesday, so much of my Monday was consumed in writing. It was incredibly helpful writing out what I want to do, even if I don’t end up following it closely. It is reassuring to have a rough outline of the plan, especially since I’m halfway done here!
The tides are very good this week, so after the loss of last week I will attempt to replenish my stocks in the nice morning lows. This morning was not as fruitful as hoped, but I did find a different species of isopod. I had yet to see two different species of isopod cohabitate, so this was especially exciting!
The saying ‘back to the old grind’ really hit home today. I freeze dried about 4 beakers full of algae over the weekend to feed the isopods during the experiment. To feed a consistent amount of algae per isopod, I ground up the dried algae into a uniform size. Sounds easy enough, right? Well that took me about 5 hours, and there are still 2 beakers left. If anyone ever tells you science is quick, they are lying.
This morning I put everything into the cold room to prepare as much as I could beforehand. I put up trash bags to block out as much light and set up hoses for air to get to the animals. This afternoon we met Jan Hodder and she showed us resources for finding jobs and internships we could use in the future. This will probably be the most helpful list of websites I will ever own in my life. After that, half of the REUs informally presented on their projects. It is so cool to hear what everyone is doing, and I cannot wait to see the results of everyone’s work! The seminar this week was about deep sea algae and its evolution, presented by Dr. Rick Zechman. I never thought I would be one to love algae, but I am learning more and more that I really, really like algae.
Set-up is as done as it can possibly be, but I couldn’t start just yet as it was too bright in the lab to take pictures of the isopods. For dinner the REUs were invited to Jan Hodder’s house for a tuna BBQ. Once we got back it was finally dark enough to start! Took till about midnight, and that was only half of the isopods, so the rest will get done this weekend! While the experience of being in a lab till midnight is super spooky, it becomes worth it when you can blast your music and have a one-woman show while working.
Another fun installment to the baby-saga, another mom had some more! Pray to the isopod gods that these babies will make it.
The REUs headed out to the Eugene campus today for a tour of some of the labs and to visit the Museum of Natural History. The museum had life-size models of sabertooth salmon and ground sloths, which were my favorite parts of the exhibit. Seeing the sheer size of ancient animals still blows my mind as to what the world must have been like. The labs at Eugene were under construction, but we got to see a few that were still running and hear about what some of the grad students are working on. It is incredible work, and it’s a bit intimidating to hear the extent of what they do. Our guide, another grad student, mentioned that she worked on a design to hold nematodes for an entire year, and that gave me some hope that my lollygagging on starting my project will not be the end of me. Of course, we stopped at trader joes on the way back and I was able to get my vegetarian marshmallows, all in all a good day.
That’s the recap! This weekend’s goal is to have the experiment up and running by Monday at the latest, so on that note I’m going to get to work and I will be back in a week!
Welcome back! About the dredging trip… let’s just say it was sick.
Here’s a recap of my week!
Over the weekend, I had some help planning a build to distribute air evenly to all 80 of my isopods. The plan is simple, but everything takes time.
Another fun note, one of my female isopods had babies! There are around 25, possibly some more, and I plan on running a diet experiment on them!
Other than that, it was a whole lot of spray painting, drilling, labeling, and podcasts. Supplies for the light box came in, so the build is underway!
Happy 4th of July! Today was a half day of work because at noon, OIMB held a picnic to celebrate the fourth. The morning consisted of some quick jobs I could start and pause/finish. The afternoon consisted of about 3 straight hours of volleyball, the classic egg toss, and then fireworks that night!
Like the beginning of the week, more set up and more podcasts. In the afternoon, we discussed social (and professional) media for scientists. Find me on Twitter soon! Later that afternoon we listened to a seminar regarding mate choice in promiscuous fish presented by Dr. Heather Auld. Wednesday night began the foosball tournament within the student/intern population, can’t say I did too well but practice makes perfect, right?
I am learning that the longer you take to start the experiment, the more factors you realize need to be changed. Unfortunately, we are not up and running just yet. This morning I went out and got some algae for a diet experiment on the babies. I am almost done with the setup of my air dispensers! Spray painting has been finished as well, for both diet and light experiments. Progress!
Some good things, some bad things today folks. We’ll start with the bad. I was welcomed into the lab this morning by a bottle full of dead babies! Unfortunately, the babies that appeared over the weekend were gone by this morning. It’s unfortunate both for the setback for my project, but also the loss of the animals. Nothing like becoming a father to 20+ babies for a week, and then losing them all. This isn’t the end of my project entirely, it just sets me back a bit until I can collect enough isopods to compensate. We will persist, readers!
Now good things. Before this I got to go out to the field with a fellow REU and help her collect some algae. I got some help drilling and threading hose attachments for my air dispensers from the wonderful maintenance staff here at OIMB, and hopefully those will be done by this weekend.
That’s the recap! This weekend some of the REUs are crabbing and some of us are headed to the field for field work, so on that note I will be back in a week!
Painting with all the Colors of the…Algae?
Week 2 is a wrap! Here’s a recap of everything I did this week:
Species of the Week:
Also commonly known as Pacific blood star. Found in the intertidal at Cape Arago, OR.
I started thinking about how I would set up my project. I went out to look for supplies as well (much harder than expected) and ended up falling a bit short so I ordered online so that should get here soon! After our lab meeting last week I realized there were a lot of factors I did not consider and needed to troubleshoot for, so that’s the goal for the week.
Today was a slow day. The lab went out tide pooling in the morning and I found a ton of isopods and a fossilized sand dollar! There’s not much you can do when you have most everything planned but just no supplies! I decided to read some more of the literature to more firmly grasp the ‘so what?’ of my project and very generally planned a timeline.
The REUs had a session with one of the mentors discussing ethics in research. It was a very eye-opening discussion. While science is very objective, some of the scenarios we discussed had mixed opinions in the group of whether it was ethical or not, some that we couldn’t come to a strong conclusion on. We also got to do short 5 minute presentations to each other today, which at first made me nervous but really, we do this all the time. It was great to hear everyone’s projects and it felt good to present my own work I’ve been doing relatively concisely, which is definitely a confidence boost.
Well, things started to pick up from the beginning of the week. A lot. My list has reached two post-it notes long (I repeat, two). I am trying to test everything out before I start the experiment so that everything can run as smoothly as possible, but boy there are a lot of aspects to consider. Had to order some more supplies that will hopefully get here Saturday, so unfortunately I’ll have to move my start date further than I would like. Which means I may have to kick off an experiment I wanted to run to further answer my question. Planning is hard.
My Friday to-do list has become too long for me to possibly finish it all today, but we will try! A grad student is defending her thesis today, and I’ve never seen a defense so I plan on seeing that. Hopefully I will get my hands on some of the supplies I’ve been waiting on and can begin building the set-up! I have a couple meetings in the afternoon to prepare for, some more troubleshooting. Hopefully by this time next week everything will be up and running! So close!
First attempt at measuring my isopods! That little guy is the biggest isopod I have, with the smallest being less than a third of the size of this big one.
My painted jars! I’m simulating the color of brown and green algae by spray painting the outside of some plastic food containers. Two down, 78 to go!
That’s the recap! This weekend the REUs are headed on the boat for a dredging trip, so on that note I will be back in a week!
Welcome! I grew up in Livermore, California and I’m about to enter my fourth and final year at University of California, Davis as an Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major. As far as science goes my interest are in marine ecology and studying how the organisms that reside in the ocean interact with each other and their environment. I keep this as broad as possible because I am still exploring what is out there in terms of research and what I’m interested in. I heard about REUs in general from a fellow marine biologist back in Davis, so I decided to consider them for this summer. I applied to a ton of places and kept my fingers crossed I could get into one, and I did! Being able to conduct my own research was a highlight of REUs that sparked my interest and I’m very excited to be able to participate and be around like-minded individuals for 9 weeks.