Showing posts from November, 2015

Feels like home

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States, so I drove north to spend the holiday with friends. I've known the Hansens since they first moved to the coast and attended my church in Coos Bay, and they've since become my surrogate Oregon family. I spent the day alternating between adult conversation and playing with the kids - an intelligent but shy 8-year-old and a chatterbox toddler. We played violin duets. We played Monopoly . We played "Chase the Squealing Child and Pretend You're Too Slow to Catch Him." I wasn't the only Thanksgiving guest, so I also got to know some new friends. Another family that attends the Hansens' church, one of Lee's colleagues. Remarkably, we all fit around the same table, even the kids, and it was a great time to share food, share love, share our lives. I'm thankful for the Hansens and for the community they're at the center of. They make Oregon feel like home.

Not so bad after all

Laptop. Check. Notebook. Check. Sack lunch. Check. Stack of CDs. Check. Full tank of gas. Check. Standing next to my car, I ran through the list one last time to make sure I had everything. It was late morning, and I was driving up to UO's main campus in Eugene to meet with a professor. She's a member of my advisory committee, and even though she's not a biologist, she's a statistical wizard and a great teacher. I needed her help with analyzing some data, so we had agreed to meet today. Every time I'm on main campus, I have mixed feelings about it. I mean, I love college campuses, and UO has a particularly beautiful one. The brick buildings, the public bulletin boards, the throngs of students in rain boots and North Face - there's a certain energy that pervades the campus. What bugs me about main campus is largely circumstantial. I always have to drive there, so I end up navigating the narrow, one-way roads of the university district with a quickened pul

The encroaching darkness

Friends, the video above contains my latest musical composition, entitled "The encroaching darkness." It's meant to represent the shortening days during my last weeks in Svalbard in October, and it serves as the fifth movement in my "Arctic" violin concerto. To be honest, it's not really fair to call it a whole movement, because it's only a minute and a half long and is missing the solo violin part. I really meant it just as an interlude, a moment of pause for the soloist between the other athletic movements of the concerto. If the video above doesn't play for you, try this link . If you're interested in the other movements of the concerto, find them here: I. Longyearbyen             Blog link           YouTube link II. Molloy                       Blog link           YouTube link III. Midnight Sun           Blog link           YouTube link IV. Kongsfjorden           Blog link           YouTube link I'm still working on the l


Sitting at my desk, I could hear footsteps behind me. Someone was coming down the hall toward my desk, probably just one of the undergrads using our lab. I ignored it at first, but the footsteps kept coming, encroaching on my workspace. Then all of a sudden, they stopped. I turned around. There stood my adviser, Craig, wearing a damp rain jacket and holding two ancient-looking books.  "Do you recognize this?" He handed me one of the volumes.  I checked the spine. Bio-Ecology by Clements and Shelford, published in 1939. "Clements is one of the names you told me to look up," I told him.  Craig nodded. "Shelford was the other."  Reading material, Young lab style. I've been thinking a lot about succession in marine hard-bottom communities lately, so Craig has been giving me reading material. In case you don't know, succession is the process by which groups of organisms sequentially replace one other as a community develops. At first

Look at the stars

"I lie under starlit sky And the seasons change in the blink of an eye I watch as the planets turn And the old stars die and the young stars burn" - "Lonesome Dreams" by Lord Huron Well, here I am again, friends,  measuring time in goodbye parties . Tonight, I bid farewell to my good friend, Laurel. Sure, I've said goodbye to plenty of friends and acquaintances in Coos Bay, but this departure was not just standard procedure. It marked the end of an era.   My Coos Bay girls at a Napa Valley winery in June 2013; Laurel is on the right. One of the ankle bracelets I wear is for the community I shared with these women. Laurel was one of my first friends in Coos Bay. When I started at OIMB, she was the senior grad student, so she was one of the people I looked to for a definition of the institute. She introduced me to tidepooling and mushrooming and all the biodiversity in southern Oregon. More than that, though, Laurel became a close personal fr

Ecological Indicators

Friends, I'm happy to announce to you that another scientific paper has been published with my name on it. I'm far from the first author on this one but rather one of many co-authors. The paper pulls together a lot of information collected from the long-term ecological research station Hausgarten, in the eastern Fram Strait, at 78 ° N.  The Hausgarten has been sampled regularly by my colleagues at the  Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, since 1999, and their annual field campaigns have created a unique and valuable dataset for monitoring ecological changes in the Arctic. I had the opportunity to visit Hausgarten twice, in 2011 and 2012, while I was living in Germany and working at the AWI. Hausgarten data was the basis for my first two ecological publications (find them here and here ) and also provides the foundation for my dissertation on dropstone communities. For more information about the  Hausgarten, I recommend you check out this webpage .   The present

"I'm a marine biologist"

"I don't know if it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things, but I tell you, Jerry, at that moment, I was a marine biologist." - the American comedy show Seinfeld The 90s sitcom Seinfeld is in my opinion the best thing to ever happen to American comedy. It's famous for being a show about nothing - the series profiles a group of young adults living in New York, and while there are mini-plots within each episode about the minutia of their lives, there is no long-term development of the story. Each episode spins on its own head, as two or three different scenarios are laid out and then pulled together in an hilarious crescendo. In one episode, George Costanza pretends to be a marine biologist in order to get an old college friend to notice him. Check out the clip  here . Marine mammal crime scene tape. It exists. I was actually reminded of this episode yesterday because I found myself face-to-face with a beached whale. That's right, frie

What a wreck

I suppose I should tell you what I'm working on now. Since I got back from Svalbard, my focus has been mainly on my shipwreck project, and if you don't remember what I'm talking about, refresh your memory here . Zoanthids, anemones, a crab, a sea star, and a fish  living  on the rusty hull of a sunken battleship. I've been working on the shipwreck data set for quite some time now, trying to understand what factors structure the invertebrate communities that live on them. I've looked at the size of each wreck; I've considered how they're oriented on the seafloor. I've looked up which type of ship made each wreck and what materials were used to construct them. I've considered elevation off the seafloor, complexity of the shipwreck surface, the extent of fishing gear entangled in each. And I'm finally making progress. When I met with Andrew in Stavanger a few weeks ago, he suggested I try a statistical technique that we used in the Svalba