This past week has certainly been interesting. The time was spent finishing up the last of my experiments and then synthesizing all my data into a fun museum exhibit, and an impressive poster. Along the way I learned quite a bit. For instance, behavioral studies are hard, and any scientist who can create a behavioral study is genius. Additionally, I learned that there is a lot of thought that goes into creating a great exhibit that communicates ideas efficiently to an audience.
Monday was all about problem solving the last experiment I was trying out. My last experiment involved watching cyprids under different wavelengths, or color, of light to determine if these animals behaved differently under each color of light. As it turns out, behavioral studies are difficult! Animals are complex creatures, and even seemingly simple animals like barnacle cyprids can be influenced by different environmental cues. My colored light set up was identical to my white light experiments. I had a tall rectangular tank sit under an iridescent lamp. The major change, however, is the use of different filters to create different colors of light. I used blue, green, yellow, and red light to see if the behavior in B. glandula changed compared to white light. The original plan had me study color response in both B. glandula and B. crenatus, but the week’s tides did not bring enough B. crenatus to make any statistically viable observations. So, I stuck to B. glandula!
Tuesday came around. The idea was simple. I would “throw a party” for my B. glandula. I would let one cyprid into the tall tank and watched them swim in the column under colored light for a minute. After that minute, I would mark where the cyprids were, much like my original white light study. However, some logistical issues arrived. I wanted to compare how one cyprid reacted under each light cue, but once that same cyprid was exposed to the 5th color, that cyprid will become so fatigued. It would be hard to determine if the cyprid was reacting to the color, or to its own low energy reserves. To add to the troubles, It was becoming harder and harder to watch the cyprids under the colored light. I was going blind! Never the less, I decided to forgo that aspect of my study to focus on writing and discussing my previous findings.
Wednesday was quite the day! It was a day devoted to a different type of creativity. After a fascinating professional development session at the Charleston Marine Life Center, I set to work creating a temporary exhibit to display for the public on Thursday. I live for this type of job. I love talking to people about science, and any chance to help inspire the next generation of scientists is a chance I want to take. I spent the morning drafting and creating my exhibit, excitingly drawing pictures, writing guides, and practicing my speech. I wanted to challenge visitors to find my cyprids within the tank and think critically on why they are finding these specimens in specific tank locations. I also wanted to give a general look into the life cycles of barnacles and what makes cyprid larvae so cool!
Thursday was an exciting day dedicated to working at the museum, explaining my research to visitors. I spent all morning preparing the exhibit, making sure that there were no typos in my information cards, my cyprids were alive and active, and all my equipment was up and running. In between set up times and presenting, I would sneak back to the lab and work on starting my poster and creating graphs of the data I collected, but eventually, it was time to present my research. The three hours went by so quickly, and it was so nice to talk about my project to the public. I worked very hard on my experiment, and seeing the public become fascinated with my little larvae was very rewarding.
On Friday we took a tour around the University of Oregon campus. It was a lovely tour conducted by OIMB’s own Sutherland. She was an excellent guide and showed the university’s biology department. I was amazed at the university’s immense funding! I thought that my home institution, the University of Florida, was well funded, but this blew UF out of the water! After our tour of the facilities, we spent a few hours at the local natural history museum. It was a small museum, and it lacked a lot of invertebrate zoology exhibits, but the exhibits they did have on display were amazing! My favorite exhibit demonstrated coevolution by showing the evolution of wolves and horses over time. It was fascinating to see so many different types of canids.
There’s only a few more weeks left here at OIMB, and its crunch time. I’m excited to start perfecting my poster and bundle my experience into one final project. Onwards to week eight!