Showing posts from April, 2015

In my backyard

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to go tidepooling with a local high school student. She was job-shadowing me for the day, and I wanted to introduce her to the Oregon intertidal. There is incredible biodiversity to be found in our collective backyard. The west coast of North America is actually known for its biodiveristy. The California Current flows south in the summers along the coast and leads to upwelling. Water is welled up from great depth, bringing with it a valuable store of nutrients. These nutrients are utilized by all kinds of primary producers, and the added energy input to the food web means high biodiversity at all trophic levels. This is of course an oversimplified explanation of a complex process, but you get what I mean. View out to my tidepooling spot (and Cape Arago Lighthouse), seen from Lighthouse Beach We drove out to my favorite tide-pooling spot, a rocky channel near the Cape Arago Lighthouse. Getting there is super sketchy. You have to park


Friends, I am very excited to announce to you that my Svalbard image analysis has been finally published! If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I spent a large portion of my time in Norway working on the analysis, and I've documented the process along the way. The article is now available in its final form from the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. It is an Open Access article, so anyone in the world can download it for free. Take a look!


Wearing an orange fleece jacket, rain pants covered in last week's dried algae, and the world's most hard-core pair of rubber boots, I made my way across campus to the dining hall. Another grad student, clad in equally unfashionable field gear, was already crouched on the steps out front. "I thought we were meeting at 1:15," I called out to her. "I heard 1. But then again, they always tell me a different time. Maybe they think I'll be late because I'm Irish," she retorted. "That's not true." I sat down on the steps. "Where are they?" It was a good 10 minutes before they finally arrived - a mob of undergraduates from our university's main campus on a field trip for their introductory biology class. They were carrying notebooks and backpacks, chatting amongst themselves and taking copious pictures. They seemed like a fun crowd. At the teacher's direction, they slowly separated into two groups. Craig Young exp

Back in business

When I went out on the boat last week, I was shocked to find that two of my moorings were still there, even though they had been left out in a stormy ocean over the winter. I was hoping that I could reuse the cement blocks this summer and save myself a little work, but it doesn't look like that's possible. The cement was crumbling, and the bolts were rusted to the point of being useless.  Enter Plan B. I spent some time at the end of last week gathering supplies, and I managed to build 10 brand-new cement moorings over the weekend. It took a little while, but we're back in business. Cement blocks drying in their wooden molds. To make the moorings, I bought bags of ready-mix cement. The mix is a combination of gravel and a dust-like powder that becomes viscous when added to water and dries in about a day. The bags are heavy, about 90 lb each, so I had to ask for help loading them into and out of OIMB's pickup truck. Thankfully, the guys that work in the OIMB s

It takes all kinds

When I was growing up, my mom used to always say that "it takes all kinds." I never really understood what the phrase meant, but my mom said it mostly whenever she was confounded by another person's behavior. I suppose it was her way of reminding herself and us that all kinds of people, even those different from us, have important functions in the world. People may be confusing, but at the end of the day, diversity is a good thing, because it takes all kinds of people to keep this earth turning. My mom is incredibly wise. As I massage my sore, tired feet tonight, I can't help but picture the diverse group of people I've just left. I went to a community concert/dance party tonight at a location that I can't disclose. The concerts are only advertised by word of mouth, and it's an unwritten rule that no reference shall be made to them on social media. I'm probably violating some code by even telling you after the fact that I was there. The concert was

In harmony

"I see the ocean deep in your eyes... I know nothing here can harm me now I rest inside the hope of odds to come Then end up in harmony" - "In harmony" by Asgeir I've listened to the song quoted above on repeat for about 5 days now. It reminds me of Norwegian landscapes with its folksy rhythms and fjord references, but it's also more than that. Throbbing bass, simple, honest guitar picking, Asgeir's falsetto voice singing lyrics like Victorian poetry - it is simply fantastic music, and it describes exactly how I feel right now. I really didn't know what to expect when I returned to Oregon. To be honest, I really struggled when I first moved here in 2012 just because the culture is so different from what I'm used to. I actually had an easier time assimilating in both Germany and Norway than in Oregon, because the people that inhabit this state are downright random. If I meet someone new, I could flip a coin - and there's about an equal

Precious sounds of life

"I lift my mind to the sky And I let it take flight The wind carries to my ears Precious sounds of life Soon I break all ties Which bind me to this earth All that surrounds me seems to melt Into the blue eternal" -"Higher" by Asgeir When I left for Norway last August, the timing was actually less than ideal. I had been conducting an experiment off the Oregon coast that summer, and on the day I left for Norway, the experiment was not yet finished. I left detailed instructions and all the necessary supplies in the hands of a student I trusted, hoped for the best, and jetted off to my Norwegian adventure. The Oregon coast and Cape Arago Lighthouse, seen from R/V Pluteus The experiment continued in my absence, lasting long into the fall. Unfortunately, by the time the experiment was finished and all equipment had to be returned to land, large autumn waves made it too dangerous to go out to sea. My equipment spent the winter offshore. Caitlin and Zabr


"Angry words and honking cars Satellites and falling stars Distant dark blue radios that whisper down my boulevard Ghosts and chains rattle in the attic Broken headphones filled with static Lonely room, you've got nowhere to run" - "American Noise" by Skillet There are so many things on my mind right now, I barely even know where to start. I've been back in Oregon all week, but today was the first time I actually made it to the lab. I definitely needed a few days to myself, and even though I got a lot of rest the last few days in San Diego, my body apparently needed more. I learned several important things about myself in Norway, and one of them was the importance of a regular routine and sufficient sleep. I'm so much more productive - and emotionally stable! - when properly rested. All moved into my desk at OIMB! Notice the tattered lander flag on the wall.  I promised myself that this time around, I would make Oregon as much like Norway a