It’s surreal to look back on everything that has happened these past 9 weeks. Although I didn’t get to finish everything I intended to in the beginning, I am still immensely proud of everything I accomplished. I’ve realized it’s just the nature of science to have things not always go according to plan. Another thing is that 9 weeks is an incredibly short time in the research world! The best thing to do is to just take things as they come and go with the flow of things. Science is never-ending and there will always be something I want to do or add to my research. It’s exciting, however, because that just means there’s always something to discover!
Other highlights of the week included attending a seminar presenting exactly what I’m studying as well as attending my first Master’s thesis presented by my fellow lab desk neighbor, Alexa Romersa. The seminar on phytoplankton was easy to follow and helped to reinforce a lot of background information on my research subject. I even got the opportunity to have dinner with the speaker, Dr. Xiuning Du, and gain new knowledge of potential direction I could go with my own work. Alexa’s thesis on gooseneck barnacles was just as awesome to see, especially because she passed! It was presented very well and I have an idea of how I would want my own defense not so far now in the future to be. It inspired me to see her finish such a big milestone in her life and how much easier it is now to see myself in her shoes one day.
Another accomplishment of mine not quite to the level of attaining of my Master’s degree, but still one I’m proud of was my win at the Invertebrate Ball that also occurred this week. I know, a LOT has been happening these final weeks. I went dressed in purple with a toilet roll telescope creation that I spent much time finding in the dining hall bathroom. I was in purple and “searching” with my “telescope”. I was a purple sea urchin! Ba-dum tss. Yes, it was bad. But it was the kind that was so bad that it was good and won me the “Best Pun” category. Something I will forever be proud of considering I have a great love of puns. Something that is probably evident through my blog post titles.
It never ceases to amaze me that next week is the last week of the program. It feels like I just got my bearings and now that I know what I’m doing and have all these other questions/ideas I want to pursue, I have to cut it short and leave. It saddens me, but I do know now that I would be interested in pursuing phytoplankton and harmful algal blooms for my Master’s thesis. I already started looking into toxicology and environmental health programs for graduate school. The program is nearing the end, but it also feels like only the beginning for my science ventures.
This week was full of activities to be done outside of research. We mainly focused on community outreach by having the REUs each have their own display at the Charleston Marine Life Center. It was a wonderful experience to break down our projects to the general public. One of the ultimate goals for me in my career is to do all I can to spread environmental awareness and show others how fascinating science can be. I believe I did a good job with all of the stimulating conversations that were had that day along with the small children who look like I won over with my display. I was very happy to educate others about my Pseudo-Nitzschia project with domoic acid and phytoplankton through my microscope and mussel materials. I believe it made for an engaging experience on both sides.
There was admittedly less time for research this week, but it consisted of attempts at finishing the analysis of water samples to have a substantial amount of data for our posters due extremely soon. At this point, unfortunately, I know I will not be able to finish all that I originally intended to accomplish, but considering how much time is needed for each of my experimental rounds there was only so much I could do. I look forward, however, to completing my project poster and seeing everything that I did accomplish these past weeks that went by much too quickly.
My name is Nancy Torres and I am from Carson, a city located in southern California. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor's of Science degree in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara. My ultimate career goal is to find a way to combine my passion for learning about the marine realm with my desire to help spread environmental awareness and inspire action.