Showing posts from July, 2018


I pushed the button to ring her doorbell. A few seconds later, I heard her voice through the speaker: “Hello?” “It’s Kirstin Meyer,” I responded, and this time she answered immediately. The door swung open, and I walked through to the elevators. When I got to her floor, the apartment door was already open, waiting for me. She greeted me with a smile, an urge to come in, and a big hug. I call Petra “my adopted German grandmother.” We met through my church in Bremerhaven when I lived here and bonded over music, travel, and faith. We’ve written letters back and forth for 6 years, and I stop by to see her whenever I’m in town . Petra is a retired opera singer and an absolutely fascinating woman. She has a huge, generous heart, a lifetime full of stories to share, and even at 78, she is incredibly active. Petra in Jerusalem I spent most of an evening listening about Petra’s recent trip to Israel. She showed me pictures of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, and the church group

Der Probenlager

Anja is a ball of sunshine. At a mere 5 feet tall, she packs more energy into a little body than I have ever seen. As we make our way down the hall, she keeps a brisk pace both in travel and in conversation, and I'm reminded how much I enjoy working with her.  The Probenlager We grab the key for the Probenlager (sample storage room) and let ourselves inside. It’s cramped with shelves and boxes and bins, and it smells faintly of formaldehyde. Dead animals in jars – my favorite . Anja glances at her notes, scans the shelves, and then hops onto a wooden box to read a jar’s label on the top. We spent a good half hour in there, pulling boxes out, reading their labels, then opening them to peek inside. Jar after jar and box after box. There were even a few labels in my handwriting – trawl samples collected in the Fram Strait in 2012. We searched everything, but we still didn’t find the samples I wanted. I’m currently at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany. As

Riding the rails

When I was a kid - probably about 12 or so - my orchestra played a song called "Riding the Rails." I remember it had funky rhythms (well, for my 7th-grader's mind) and was performed very quickly to mimic a rattling train. The title stuck with me because was a phrase I had never heard before, and it wasn't until years later in U.S. history class that I found out the expression was used to describe men who rode freight trains cross-country during the Depression. Got to admit, I feel a bit like a 1930s hobo this week, because I've spent an inordinate amount of time on trains. Since parting ways with Carl in Budapest , I have made it all the way to northern Germany, traveling some 1500 km entirely by train. With Theresa and Jessi in Heidelberg Thankfully, the trip was broken up by a visit with my friend, Theresa . We met when I was living in Bremerhaven, but she has since moved south, to a small town in the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz. Because her current

The capitals

Right now, I am on a train somewhere in Hungary. I know we haven’t crossed the border into Austria yet because the place names are ones that I could never hope to pronounce. It is early morning, and low-hanging gray clouds cover the tops of the hills. With Carl in Prague. The Danube River and Prague Castle are in the background. I have spent the last week exploring central Europe with Carl. We made it to Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest. With our careers both being so tied to the ocean, we rarely get to see inland areas unless on vacation, so we took the chance while we were already in Europe and did just that. The trip was a much-needed reprieve for both of us, time away from the normal stressors of work and family. Each of the central European capitals has its own unique highlights and is steeped in history. We visited Prague Castle, a centuries-old fortress that served as the capital of Bohemia, then Czechoslovakia, and now the modern Czech Republic. We explore

My best friend’s wedding

Every time I return to Europe, I find myself lying in bed my first morning and enjoying the ambience. The sun rises earlier here in the summers, so there’s plenty of light coming in the window as I awaken. Sheer curtains cover the open, screenless window, and light traffic noise wafts in. There is something so bright and fresh about early mornings in European summer. The atmosphere relaxes me. Me and Stefanie. Photo by Carl Kaiser. I am now in M ü hlhausen, Germany, the first stop on what will be a whirlwind European work/personal trip. If you’ve never heard of M ü hlhausen, you’re not alone. It’s a small town in the center of Germany, not really notable for anything except for being the birthplace of Johann R ö bling, the architect behind the Brooklyn Bridge. But M ü hlhausen is significant to me: it is the hometown of my best friend, Stefanie. The bride and groom emerging from the city hall. I first visited M ü hlhausen in 2011, shortly after meeting Steffi. We

In print

Friends, research is a lot of work, but it is also rewarding! I always take joy in seeing my work in print, and today, another article has been published as a result of my studies. This paper concerns the swimming behavior of oyster larvae when they are competent to settle. I've been telling you about my analysis of oyster larvae swimming behavior for over a year. When I arrived at WHOI, I was given four datasets to analyze, and to do so, I had to learn how to code . I wrote scripts to identify larvae swimming down, swimming up, and swimming in helices , calculate the proportions of each, and find their average velocities. Working with my advisor and co-authors, I picked out which results were most meaningful and whittled them down into a coherent story. My co-authors and I revised our manuscript  numerous times and even started over once . Our manuscript was submitted for publication and underwent review, after which it had to be overhauled again . It took a lot of time and a

Patriot day

Friends, it is a busy summer! I'm not sure if you're having any trouble keeping track of my projects this summer (there are several), so let's review! There are lab experiments on oyster larvae swimming behavior ; I have an experiment hanging off the dock to see how limpets affect fouling fauna ; and I'm studying how larvae disperse among shipwrecks on Stellwagen Bank in order to stop the spread of an invasive species. It is this latter project that brings me to the blog today. This weekend, I visited my third site on Stellwagen Bank to deploy samplers, and it was a very interesting trip! My day began at 5:45 am. Carl and I had stayed in Beverly, MA, north of Boston, in preparation for our early morning dive. We made our way to the dock by 6:30 and discovered many of our fellow divers were already there. The regulars are all pretty hardcore morning people. We loaded our gear onto the Gauntlet and were off. My larval traps and fouling panels adjacent to t

Limpet land: part 2

Friends, the summer of research continues! This week, I checked on my Crepidula fouling experiment I had begun in June. You know, the one where I put live limpets and glued shells  on plastic fouling panels to see how the limpets affect recruitment of the organisms around them. After three weeks, the panels had been colonized by a variety of organisms - mostly ascidians and bryozoans - so I wanted to count them all and see if I could tell any difference between panels with limpets, panels with shells, and panels with neither. Limpet shells overgrown by ascidians and bryozoans It took me a whole two days to get through all 25 panels in my experiment. I was constantly running back and forth from the dock to the microscope. I pulled the panels off of their PVC backing one by one and examined them under the 'scope to identify all the organisms that were there. I made a few interesting observations. First, the limpets were overgrown by other organisms, more so than I had expect