Showing posts from July, 2016

The worms are out

After a week spent with family and friends, the storm of my dissertation defense has passed, and I finally got back to checking e-mail. As it turns out, a paper that I had submitted for publication was finally type-set and released by the publisher. This paper concerns Hyalinoecia artifex , a large, active worm that lives in tubes on the continental slope of the northwestern Atlantic. The paper represents a collaborative effort involving scientists from two different institutes. We were all on board Atlantis last summer and made our observations of H. artifex  during the cruise. Each person contributed a different part of the analysis, and my name is listed first only because I tied the various parts of the paper together and was responsible for submitting it. The final published paper can be found at this link:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley. com/doi/10.1111/ivb.12132/full

Forget about me: Part 3

The concept of community is one that I think about a lot. Everywhere I live, I try to observe the community around me, try to figure out what works and what doesn't. Where there are strong communities, I try to figure out why. Where a community is weak or non-existent, I try to figure out why. I've learned a lot about community in Oregon, both positive and negative. I have been part of an absolutely awesome, though ephemeral, community of friends. I have also been hurt by multiple closed-off, self-centered people. In fact, one of the biggest things that I learned is that quite often, the very people who claim to be most accepting of others are in fact the most closed-off. They tolerate everyone but connect with no one. The result is an incredibly superficial communty. Anyone can slide right in - but they can also lift right out. As I've watched genuine communities appear and disappear around me, I've learned that building a community is not solely up to me. Communit


As you might imagine, graduate school is steeped in tradition. At OIMB, a successful defense is no exception. The evening after I defended, the OIMB community, plus my family and my committee gathered at Craig's house for a potluck dinner. Craig, my advisor, even went one step beyond the protocol of tradition and chose a unique theme for the party: a traditional Scandinavian midsummer celebration, or Sankthansaften. Because my defense took place in midsummer and most of my research took place in the European Arctic, the theme was perfect! There were Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam, elderberry juice, Smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) with pickled herring, smoked salmon - Craig managed to get everything that reminded me of Norway. The party was fantastic! I ordered a special cake for the potluck - in the form of a dropstone! Can you spot the Caulophacus arcticus ? My brother took the Scandinavian theme to heart and showed up in a sweater I brought back from Norway.


My defense passed so quickly - like lightning. Thankfully, a few of my supporters captured the event in pictures. Check them out below. With my title slide for my defense presentation.  Photo by Sephra Hansen. On this slide, I'm pointing out some of the animals that  inhabit shipwrecks. Photo by Angela Meyer. Answering questions after my defense presentation.  It was a packed house! Photo by Angela Meyer.

Like that

"With a Ph.D., there is only before and after. The actual moment passes like that." - Astri J.S. Kvassnes Before:   There was a soft rap on the door.   Must be Craig . I thought. I flung it open playfully, joyfully. I handed him the bag of items he had requested, forgot the receipt, ran into my room to get the receipt. We chatted. "So, are you ready for tomorrow?" he asked, "Has it hit you yet? Are you nervous?"   Well , I thought,   I am now . After:   Making my way to the end of the long restaurant table, I sat down between two good friends. I had been working the room for the last half hour, changing seats with every course. These two were the last stop. Parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues - I made sure to spend time with them all. A few seats away, my mom gained permission to hold Laura's 6-month-old baby, and the cutie emerged from his car seat. Mom's always been good with babies. Before:   I made my way down to the front o

Sword and shield

"Was there nothing but the hush of night? Had a treasure, but I don't know where Did you flee from what was said and seen? Yes, the good was not without the bad Raise your sword and shield" - "Was there nothing" by Ásgeir If there was ever a verse written to describe my experiences in graduate school, it is the one above. Ásgeir, you Icelandic musical genius, your lyrics speak to my soul. It's hard for me not to get reflective as my graduate education draws to a close. I find myself mentally reviewing my struggles and my victories, the harsh words that were said to me and the encouragement I received. I've said for years that science is easy, but relationships are hard. My time as a Ph.D. student has only reinforced this belief. I've even on occasion referred to graduate school as "one long, extended hazing ritual." But as I watch the sky outside darken and the world prepare for sleep, I cannot help but be positive. Every trial

The sky is red

"Red sky at night, sailor's delight Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning." - Old adage I can't tell you how many times I've heard the phrase above repeated on research ships. You'd think scientists would know better. Even though modern ships have complex and reliable meteorological equipment, people at sea still love to quote the ancient verse. I learned on a ship sometime last year that the predictive power of the red sky has its origins in the tropical Atlantic. The predominant winds at tropical latitude (the so-called Trade Winds) are from the east. Therefore, if the sky was red at sunrise (in the east), sailors could expect whatever turbulent air mass caused the color change to come their way later in the day. On the other hand, if the sky was red at sunset (in the west), then the storm would be carried away from them. Red sunrise There are now only 4 days remaining until my dissertation defense, and I can tell you that my sky is  red.

The calm before the storm

Dear friends, I am sitting at my kitchen table, watching the sky darken outside. I am relaxed - actually shockingly so. My dissertation has been turned in. I finished my defense presentation yesterday, and I've already practiced it twice. The logistical issues surrounding my defense have gradually gotten solved. Little by little, my to-do list is dwindling. This feels wrong. Shouldn't I be stressed to the gills right now? Shouldn't I be frantically working, scrambling to meet a deadline? I have to be missing something. I've never been a procrastinator. In fact, whenever I know there's a task to be completed, I feel something like an itch in my brain. I simply can't move on or relax until it's done. So I work, sometimes frantically, until the itch goes away. I always finish way ahead of schedule, then wonder why I was stressed in the first place. Maybe my anti-procrastination method is paying off. I've gotten most everything in order with alm

Look at the stars: Part 3

"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 Ladies and gentlemen, it is July 2016. My brain can hardly believe it. I swear, the last time I blinked, I had just had my committee meeting in January . It's probably because I haven't taken a breath since then (ok, I took one breath ), but the first half of this year was a complete blur. I've had my head down, writing my thesis for months. And all of a sudden, I find myself thrust to the surface, forced to breathe. Yesterday, another OIMB graduate student successfully defended her dissertation and received her Ph.D. She did some excellent work, looking at how changes in the environment can induce changes in snail larvae. It's called phenotypic plasticity, and it's really cool. When a predator is around, the larvae grow thicker shells. When food is in low su