A few gals and I shuffled over to the carnival and rodeo; the venue presented bull riding and bull chasing, sold caramel apple and scones (not the Scottish biscuit-like pastry), which I tasted for the first time, and allowed petting of farm animals: goats, cows, pigs, ponies, llamas. The farm animals were my favorite, especially a crazy cow that licked us for minutes and continued to lick the cow adjacent to it as we moved on.
The following day the interns traveled to Newport, where we were welcomed with a tour of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The visitors’ center was quite wonderful, geared towards showing the public and allowing participation of what science truly entails; the center even has a grant for the set up of cameras throughout to see the popularity of each display and activity along with the reactions of the visitors to allow for improvement. Afterwards, we had fun at the Newport Aquarium, viewing many animals.
The day was not over yet as we stopped by Cape Perpetua on the way home. The viewpoint was spectacular; the hilly tree-coated lands and the ripples of the Pacific Ocean for miles and beyond presented a breathtaking, hard-to-imagine picture. Next on the list was a bed of carnivorous flowers Darlingtonia californica. The organism is quite neat; insects are lured into a leaf opening by nectar and are confused by the many transparent areas, preventing escape. The glassy surface of the top causes the insects to slide down to the lower tube lined with sharp hairs. They fall into a pool of liquid, are digested and absorbed. It is quite gruesome but totally cool!
The week also involved much luxury reading in many luxurious places: the beach, hammocks, and the boat. Speaking of boats, Kaitlyn and I collected our near-shore larval trap this week. Days later, we attempted to collect our off-shore larval traps way out in the ocean, and they were nowhere to be found. We were struck by surprise as Captain Mike spotted the traps just a week or so beforehand. We did not even consider the possibility that the traps could be missing, and the deadline to complete our projects is rapidly approaching with our posters already needing to be composed. With the 2 off-shore traps gone, we adjusted our project with a week to spare; now, we will sort all the larvae of the near-shore larval trap morphologically rather than just the barnacles, which was the original plan for all the larval traps. By doing so, we will be able to compare the presence of the larvae on the ocean floor with those of 1 meter above, determining where they travel. The results may be of less significance now, however, since the larvae are most likely jumbled up by the tide, possible causing an inaccurate belief of where the larvae travel. We shall see.
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.