Time is ticking, and the need for data collection is high. Kaitlyn and I have spend countless hours on the microscope this week, capturing pictures of pyrosome gonads. Once the data is collected, we will analyze the findings, recognize a pattern, and discover something of pyrosome reproduction. In an attempt to remain sane with all the microscopy, we have multiple projects happening, allowing us to rotate and take a break from each activity. We are completing histology on decalcified brittle stars from the Gulf of Mexico, counting the zooids in sections of the pyrosomes at different locations, and mounting mussels for view and analysis via the scanning electron microscope. The work is meticulous and repetitive, but it is part of being a scientist, and the final result of the data will be well worth the effort… some day… we hope.
Hello! My name is Nicole Wegrzyniak. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and I moved to Santa Barbara, California in 2015, where I attended Santa Barbara City College. In the fall of 2017, I will be attending the University of California, Davis, where I will be studying animal biology. I have desired to be a veterinarian ever since I was a child, and I continue to reach for this; I wish to open my own animal clinic someday, where I will happily help heal animals. While pursuing this dream, I have participated in many sports, clubs, volunteering opportunities, and whatever else I can in order to experience more and enhance my life. I enjoy gaining cultural intelligence through much travel, and I also fancy hiking, doing yoga, making crafts, and grocery shopping.
I applied to the REU program because it seemed like an intriguing and helpful program that would teach me professional skills and provide research experience while having fun with a topic I am greatly interested in: marine biology. I am excited to be working with Craig Young as my mentor and Kaitlyn Beard, the other undergraduate student Craig is mentoring. I wish to get a lot out of this experience, and already, within the first week this has been the case. I have learned how to collect larvae with a plankton net and how to identify some of the local invertebrate larvae. Furthermore, I have become familiar with how to rear larvae under optimal conditions in vitro as well as other helpful lab techniques. We are discussing possible projects that involve reproductive biology, larval development, and the ecology of deep-sea invertebrates. Specifically, we have discussed investigating the larvae at different depths of the ocean, gonad histology of deep-sea brittle stars or amphipods, and investigating the effect of larval predation on population distributions. I am excited to further plan these projects, to design the experiments and learn how to analyze data.