Showing posts from December, 2017


"Humans were never meant to hibernate" - message on a T-shirt I waddled across the snow-covered dock, laden with gear. I was wearing my dry suit and had a SCUBA tank on my back. A regulator and two waterproof lights dangled over my shoulders. On my hips, I carried an extra 10 lb of lead, plus 2 lb on each ankle. I already had my mask and gloves on, but I was carrying my fins. Slowly, I shuffled my feet through the snow, keeping my balance on the wintery pier. The cold air felt good in my lungs.   Carl had told me to get in the water as quickly as possible so my regulator didn't freeze up again - we had climbed out to fix it once already. As I approached the edge of the instrument well, I lifted one leg over the wooden barrier, then the other. I leaned on a storage bin to slide on my fins. I shuffled to the edge, put the regulator in my mouth, and... SPLASH! The  41° F water surrounded me. I could feel the cold, salty sting on my neck and my lips, the only p

One giant desk

Friends, I am so behind. I've been out of touch for over two weeks, but with good reason, I assure you. I have been swamped with work - proposal writing, paper revising, intern mentoring, dive training, and general running around like my hair is on fire . Since I last wrote, I attended the DeSSC meeting (pronounced "desk," short for Deep Submergence Science Committee). Twice a year, the major players in deep submergence in the United States get together and talk about the future of their work. The group includes engineers in charge of the major vehicles ( Alvin, Jason, Sentry ), managers for the programs that fund them (mostly NSF), and the scientists who consistently use them. At one of the meetings each year, there's also a New User Program, designed to introduce students, postdocs, and young faculty to the vehicles. New Users have a chance to speak with the program managers about funding opportunities, ask the vehicle engineers about how to best use them, and con

Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman

"Stay Puft Kirstin!" my fiancé beamed as he attached the hose to my suit. He turned on the compressed air tank at the other end and pushed the button on my sternum to inflate the suit. It filled with air, bubbling out around me until I looked like a marshmallow woman.  "This feels so weird!" I exclaimed, feeling my new full-body garment swell with air. My fiancé released the inflator button and stood back to look at me.  "I think it fits," he announced. "Now raise your left arm."  Lifting my elbow, I heard air rush out of the dump valve on the suit's left side. I slowly deflated.  Friends, as many of you know, I learned to SCUBA dive this year . It's a great way to access habitats between the intertidal and the deep sea, explore the biodiversity around me , and get outdoors. It's my new favorite thing. Well, diving in New England is complicated by declining water temperatures in winter. Below about 50° F, it's unsafe to be

Blowing in the wind

"How many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand?... The answer is blowing in the wind" - "Blowing in the wind" by Bob Dylan Ah, the age-old question of life. One that every scientist seeks to answer. The great mystery of research: how many proposals must a postdoc write before she gets funding? Friends, science is all about grants. My current funding is due to run out in the spring, and so I'm currently in application mode. Well, I suppose I'm always in application mode, but now it's just with a little more urgency. Every scientist goes through this. In order to get a project (and their salary) funded, they have to write a proposal. You draft a plan for your project, write an introduction, list the important scientific questions, outline your methods, propose a budget, and then submit the whole thing to a funding agency. Some grants are funded, but the majority are not. So far this year, I've had two fellowship applications

No words

"The heart is hard to translate It has a language of its own It talks in tongues and quiet sighs In prayers and proclamations  In the grand days o f great men and the smallest of gestures In short shallow gasps... All of my stumbling phrases never amounted to anything worth this feeling... Words were never so useful So I was screaming out a language that I never knew existed before" - "All this and heaven too" by Florence and the Machine Rolling my green suitcase beside me, I walked through the sliding glass doors. I spotted him immediately. He was standing behind the waist-high barrier in the international arrivals hall, waiting for me. He was wearing black dress pants and a blue button-down shirt, holding a bouquet of orange and red flowers.  I quickened my pace as I crossed the linoleum floor. By the time I got to him, I was at risk of breaking into a jog. He opened his arms and wrapped them around me, the bouquet in his left hand colliding with my