Showing posts from March, 2018

Picture book

A "typical" foraminiferan, Cibicides wuellerstorfi , photographed under a dissecting microscope.  "Here, try looking through this," my advisor, Lauren, instructed me, as she handed me a large gray book. I read the cover: Foraminiferal genera and their classification . Sounds promising, I thought. I've been trying to identify some of the organisms on my recruitment panels that I collected from the Arctic deep sea last summer . Most of the animal taxa I was able to identify myself ( sponges and sea lilies and the like), but there is a whole other group of organisms on the panels that I'm not so good at identifying: the foraminiferans. The name is a mouthful, so you can just call them forams. They're single-celled organisms that are more common than you think. They live in the water column and on the seafloor, and their shells form important geological structures. Have you ever seen the star-shaped sand on the beaches of Okinawa, Japan? Those sand

The pond

Waddling over the gravel-covered terrain, I made my way toward the water line. I was wearing my dry suit and carrying a steel tank on my back. Two regulators dangled over my right shoulder, and I carried my fins in my left hand. I was diving at Hathaway Pond. The entrance to Hathaway Pond The pond is not the best dive site in the world, but it's easy to access and usually not too cold. We use it as a training site, a place to go on the weekends or when the marine dive charters shut down for the winter. The bottom is covered in sand and stringy algae. Small stickleback fish dart around. There is a training platform, a shipwreck, and a sunken car on the bottom. It's a good place to practice and keep our skills sharp. It had been several months since my last dive , and I could tell. I had to go more slowly as I assembled my equipment, checking everything twice to make sure I didn't make a mistake. This summer, I'll be diving a lot, including for a research study I

The Ninth

Hands hovering by his sides, the conductor made tiny flicks with his baton. The second violins played their notes with him in time, bowing quickly and quietly across their strings. Their minor chord had the same texture as leaves rustling in a breeze. I raised my violin to my shoulder and placed my first note, a quick E followed by an A. It was quiet, almost imperceptible. After a short pause, I placed two more notes, listening to the rhythm of the seconds on my left while watching the concertmaster to my right. Two more notes, then two more, then a roll of the timpani, a crescendo, and the whole orchestra broke out with a fortissimo melody. We were off! This weekend, my orchestra performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It was an incredible experience. The Ninth is an iconic work and a huge undertaking - a real once-in-a-lifetime experience to perform - which we used to commemorate the orchestra's tenth anniversary. If Beethoven had merely written his last symphony for orchestr


"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." - Douglas Adams Friends, when I started this blog, part of my motivation was to give you an honest inside look into the life of a scientist. I wanted you to know it's not all lab coats and pipette tips (personally, I wear rubber boots more often than anything). I wanted you to see that science is community-based, not a solitary activity, and that the pursuit of knowledge transcends borders. I wanted to share with you my adventures. But I also want you to know that science involves a lot of writing. A lot. Of writing. You might remember the five-figure word count I achieved when penning my dissertation. I've told tales of  writing , submitting , and revising  scientific manuscripts before. I've shared with you my joy and pride when one gets published . Writing papers about research is a huge part of scientific life. What I haven't told you as much about is the process of writing re


Friends, I have been radio silent for a while. A whole month - my longest gap since starting this blog. It feels strange in one way because I'm so used to posting, but it feels surprising in another way because the last month has gone by in a flash. I could swear I just got home from Antarctica last week. No way it's been a whole month since I last posted. February always seems short (having only 28 days and all), but this one was particularly blitz-like. My first week home from Antarctica, I went straight back to work with proposals, papers, and orchestra practice - I didn't even have a chance to recover from jet lag until the next weekend. Then it was more proposals, a visit with family, and finding time to spend with friends before they left town or moved away. I've finally gotten past my February deadlines, but I find myself staring spring in the face. I have more deadlines coming up and need to start planning summer field work already. The wheel of chaos is turn