The week began with a spontaneous boat trip in an effort to obtain lost larval traps mid-ocean as well as to capture some animals from the ocean floor. The trip was not what one would describe as a huge success; a couple of people became sea sick, the trap was found but not retrieved, and very few specimens were collected. However, I was able to get out in the field, become acquainted with the boat, and learn that in research, one does not succeed with each effort.
Pyrosomes (colonial, bioluminescent tunicates) were rare off Oregon until recently, but during recent months they have bloomed off the Oregon coast, stressing fishermen and peaking biologists' interests. Intrigued by this bloom, we plan to study the reproduction of pyrosomes to answer how many eggs they produce, how long the production takes, if the size of the colony correlates to the size of the eggs, and why the population explosion occurred. We will also use histology to study these animals.
The week brought on a plan of action, where project ideas were clarified and specified. While I am doing what I love daily in lab, my nights are also full of fun with the interns. Every night brings on a new adventure whether it be a night on the beach of playing guitar and singing, a foosball tournament, or simply a long talk full of giggles with my new friends.
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.