I finally arrived at a sunny Eugene airport on Saturday, the 16th of June for my long awaited REU experience! I arrived, stiff bodied from a short flight in a crowded plan from Seattle, Washington, to be greeted by several other eager REU interns corralled together by our responsible supervising graduate student! We loaded two months’ worth of luggage into a nine-person van and began a three-hour journey to Charleston, Oregon for a summer of adventure and education (with a break for lunch, of course)!
I originally hail from California and only moved to Seattle in the last two years for school after a four-year enlistment in the Navy. I was initially pursuing a degree in psychology with hopes of acceptance into the University of Washington but switched focus within the first year to seek an education in one of the fields of oceanography after experiencing the excellent tutelage of Marina Halverson in an Oceanography 101 class as Seattle Central College. I have loved being near the ocean for as long as I can remember, no doubt strongly affected by the sparse sailing trips that I experienced as a child. The thought of a career that might allow me to share my time evenly between educational pursuits in the lab and field appealed to me very much! Over a year has passed since that shift in educational goals and I have since changed focus again in the direction of engineering, following experience that I have gained about where my talents lay and the sort of work that I enjoy in school. My ultimate hope is to combine these two disciplines and eventually serve the needs of marine scientists through development of technologies to aid in research and maintenance of the world’s oceans.
Following three hours of conversation on the road, the good interns of the OIMB arrived on campus under darkness and quickly found our way to the dorms where we would spend the next nine weeks sleeping, eating, and hopefully having some fun as well! Fast-forward two days into Monday, and we were introduced to both the various facilities of the campus, and to the mentors who will guide us through our summer of research. I received the honor of working under Dr. Kelly Sutherland in the pursuit of knowledge about marine invertebrates, specifically the recent visitor of the Northern Pacific Ocean: Pyrosoma atlanticum. Pyrosomes are typically a tropical or subtropical planktonic chordate that spend their days aimlessly drifting through warm-ish water, passively sucking up microscopic plankton and look rather like a pale, floating sausage. For those of you who don’t already know, a chordate is a taxon of animals who are specifically defined by the presence of a few morphological features that can easily be searched for online if you’re curious. Need an example of a species representative of chordates? Then look in a mirror! You are more closely related to a pale floating sausage than you are to an octopus!
In several weeks I will be joining a cruise on the R/V Sally Ride to take samples, video footage, and other data on these squishy invaders and have so far spent my time here in the Sutherland Lab preparing for just that. I have learned a lot about pyrosomes in the last four days, including aspects of their morphology as well as how they strayed so far up north by means of a large patch of warm and stable water appropriately dubbed ‘The Blob’, which appeared off the pacific coast several years ago. I have spent a lot of my time learning how to analyze video data taken during the previous winter cruise to determine exactly where pyrosomes like to live in the water column and have been trying to assist in developing a method to take further footage using a stereoscopic video system (utilizing two cameras at a time) which will hopefully allow us to determine the density of these organisms in the water. Finally, I am trying to determine how to house these plankton temporarily during the upcoming cruise and, more importantly, what to do with them once we have them! Whatever techniques and idea I am able to develop here, I have a good feeling about the following eight-and-a-half weeks!
Hello there! My name is Matthew Gimpelevich and I am currently an undergraduate student in my third year of oceanography and engineering at Seattle Central College in Seattle, Washington. I’m lucky enough to be working in the Sutherland lab at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology where I get to formulate my own methods of studying the pyrosome, Pyrosoma atlanticum, which has recently migrated up the Pacific coast from warmer waters! As an REU intern, I look forward to developing research techniques and methods of organizing and maintaining my own projects!