Showing posts from April, 2016

Repeat 10 times

As many of you know, I'm working on writing my dissertation now. It's a long process that involves a lot of reading, a lot of assimilating information, and a heck of a lot of time on my computer. I'm reminded of what a former OIMB grad student once said to me, that he was a professional reader. I remember thinking at the time it was an odd thing for him to say, but I totally get it now. So much of academic life is just reading scientific papers, assimilating the information, and writing my own analyses. Of course I've had little distractions to break up the monotony. I'm actually in a bit of a cycle now: Read scientific papers, assimilate information, write my own analysis. Repeat 3 times. Pick up frozen squid for the invertebrate zoology class. Then back to my desk - read scientific papers, assimilate information, write my own analysis. Repeat 5 times. Fiddle with the OIMB camera sled to make sure it's in good working order. Read papers, assimilate inform

To communicate

Every Friday, OIMB hosts an afternoon seminar. It's a good way to get everyone together to talk about science and expose ourselves to different areas of research. Most of the speakers are professors from various universities in the U.S. and Canada, but this week, I had the opportunity to speak. Well, me and one other grad student. We split the hour-long slot, and we both outlined what we had been working on for our theses, what results we had found, what discoveries we had made. I always appreciate the opportunity to practice communicating science. In fact, I think every scientist needs to practice communication, because too often researchers get absorbed in the detail of their work and forget how to talk about it with non-specialists. OIMB has a diverse faculty, and in fact, one of the best questions I got after the seminar was from a developmental biologist. Her question may help me add an interesting new detail to my work. I talked about my dropstone project, the corners

Barnacle tales

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from a dear friend in Brazil. She told me tales of her tropical field work, of communicating with the boat driver in broken Portuguese, of battling sun- and windburn, of warding off insects, and of the countless scrapes on her hands from mussels and barnacles. I had to smile as I read her message, because this particular friend is both highly intelligent and fearless. I understand a little of what she's going through, having been a field-working foreigner myself. Granted, I've never had to communicate my wishes to a boat driver in Portuguese, but I know exactly what she means about the barnacles. Hesperibalanus hesperius and Onchidoris bilamellata on a settlement plate. Can you tell which is which? I've seen my share of barnacles both in the Arctic and on the temperate Oregon coast. As my fearless friend battles barnacles a hemisphere away, I'm analyzing my own barnacle data. I've actually set the Svalbard data aside for a


It's the same every year, but somehow, it's different every year. Spring term at OIMB sees a lot of visiting groups, classes from main campus that come down to explore the coast. One of the regulars is Bio 199, and I only know the class number because I've heard it repeated so many times around campus. It starts in March with e-mails, discussions, preliminary scheduling. Then eventually the grad students are volun-told when to show up and help out with various activities. I'm always responsible for taking the kids out on the boat to collect plankton samples and pull up a crab pot. I drag myself to the lab, corral my group, mechanically hand out life jackets, get the net set up. And then some bright-eyed 19-year-old asks me a question, and I mentally jet off into the Land of Marine Biology Awesomeness. You see, it just takes one enthusiastic future OIMBer to make my whole day worth it. There could be a whole class of kids listlessly dragging their feet on a field tri

Spring transition

Well, friends, it's the end of another week. I'm sorry I haven't posted anything, but here are a few things that happened since I last wrote. 1) The spring transition happened! Winter rains gave way to summer's north wind, so upwelling season is underway. 2) Spring classes started at OIMB, and now the campus is overrun with undergraduates that I don't recognize. 3) I volunteered to go out in the field with another grad student, and we ended up lowering ourselves down a steep sandstone face with a makeshift rope. I was feeling pretty hardcore until my fellow student informed me we were at one of her "easy" sites. Dang, girl. 4) I've been working on writing up my Svalbard settlement plate project from last fall and getting nostalgic. I miss the awesome community at 79 N.  5) I found a book in the OIMB library that was supposedly out of print and impossible to find. It tells you everything you could ever want to know about Arctic bryoz