The final week of summer research is here, and the experience feels simultaneously as though it passed by in a flash and at a crawl. At the time of writing, the research symposium already passed and the interns of OIMB have demonstrated their research with passion and clarity, proudly sharing the product of two months’ effort while successfully defending their methods and data interpretation from the steady flow of questions posed by fellow researchers and science enthusiasts. The experience was enjoyable, and far more relaxed than many of us had expected as we prepared for criticism in the days leading up to the symposium. I would describe the questions posed to us as being much closer to friendly interest than real criticism, but the idea of seasoned researchers picking apart our hard work was powerful motivation to ensure we were caught up on our organisms and able to clearly explain the elements of our research. The posters themselves were designed elegantly and I felt that they fully expressed the effort poured into them during the preceding weeks.
My own poster was aimed at expressing the vertical distribution of pyrosomes by several measures while explaining the purpose and methods of the research. Demonstrating the relationship between pyrosome abundance and environmental parameters was accomplished by reviewing the 33 summer videos for the depth in each video that contained the highest number of pyrosomes. These depths and associated environmental data were then used as data points to show if there are any parameters which pyrosomes favor above others. The closest association revealed by the data showed that the depths containing the highest amount of pyrosomes tended to fall within 8 to 11°C, with some outliers placed closer to 17°C from a cast outside of Newport that had unusually high seawater temperature. There also appeared to be a fairly strong relationship with fluorescence, a measure of phytoplankton content, in which most of the depths containing the highest amount of pyrosomes appeared close to 0. This seems to indicate that the pyrosomes were mostly placed below the surface mixing layer where fluorescence drops off rapidly. Pyrosomes have already been observed to accumulate near the bottom of the surface mixing layer and this observation was reinforced my own data. It is also apparent when looking at a representation of every pyrosome’s location by depth that their vertical positions varied quite a bit during the day, while accumulating near surface water at night. Unfortunately, I was not able to incorporate the winter, 2018 cruise data into my research because I did not have time to process the videos from both cruises, but I am beginning to process those videos now in an effort to continue research past completion of my research poster. I had previously been under the impression that fewer pyrosomes were observerd during the winter cruise due to a confusion with the data that I had in my possession, but the case seems to be quite the opposite as well over a hundred pyrosomes regularly appear over short depth intervals rather than the ten or so that I typically observed in the summer footage. I am interested to process the remaining winter footage in the future see how it compares with the summer footage.
Several weeks ago, I posted an entry into this blog regarding my feelings on the REU program as a whole, and those feelings have only been reinforced since that point in the program. I spoke about how the program allows a participant the chance to think creatively and practically about their area of interest, and about the rewarding experience of seeing one’s own effort come to fruition, something that I get to experience fully at the end of the program. I believe that this sort of experience is a major benefit to anybody wavering in their education or career plans, as well to those who are simply feeling worn down by their long journey through the sciences in college. Of course, a research experience looks fantastic on a resume and I think that coming into this program looking forward to that reward is fine, but I strongly believe that this should come as a secondary concern to the experience itself. I think that the same is true of coming into the program by treating it like a summer camp. To anybody reading this blog with the intent to participate in the OIMB REU program, trust that you will have enough time to make friends and some fun memories while you are here, but I urge you to think first about what it is you actually want to work on! What actually interests you? If you could work on anything for 2 months, what would it be? This is one of the rare opportunities for your interests to take center stage and the more interested you are, the more your efforts will shine.
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!