Showing posts from November, 2018

Captured butterflies

I love larval traps. I love pouring out a dish full of preservative, scanning the clear liquid and seeing nothing with my naked eyes, wondering if there is a single organism in the sample. I love placing that same dish under the microscope, adjusting the focus, and being transported into a whole new world. I love the surprises that await me under magnification . I love finding preserved larvae, sorting them into categories by shape and size, then pulling out books to identify them . I love the process of discovery. Today, I spent some time at the microscope going through larval trap samples from the Arctic. I built the traps myself  at WHOI in 2017 and worked with German and Norwegian collaborators to deploy them on moorings in the Arctic. The first set of traps was collected in August of this year , after a year underwater. Limacina retroversa , photographed at 50x magnification I had no idea what I was going to find in my larval traps, so I excitedly cracked open my first sam

Deep-sea challengers

Friends, I am pleased to announce the publication of another one of my scientific papers today! The paper's release is well-timed because the first author is Andrew Sweetman, my friend and former advisor who recently came to visit . Regular readers of this blog may recall a research expedition that Andrew invited me on in 2015. We sailed out of San Diego on R/V Thomas Thompson and headed to the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, a region of the tropical eastern Pacific. The seafloor in the CCZ is covered with manganese nodules, which look like rocks but hold high concentrations of manganese and other minerals that several companies and nations are interested in mining. Our job during the cruise was to conduct baseline research in two mining claim areas in the CCZ to understand what would be lost if the seafloor were disturbed by mining activities. The short answer? A lot. Besides the animals that live on and in the nodules themselves, the sediments in the eastern CCZ have hi

Instant recall

Friends, as you may remember, I had a project this summer examining dispersal and recruitment of larvae at shipwrecks in Massachusetts . I deployed fouling panels and larval traps at two shipwrecks and a natural hard-bottom site ( which turned out to be buried in sand ), and I collected them months later . Back in the lab, I've been analyzing those samples to figure out what species colonize shipwrecks and how their larvae disperse around Cape Cod Bay. I spent yesterday and part of today at the microscope, sorting and identifying the species that were collected by my larval traps. One in particular caught my eye. Sometimes when I look at a sample, I have to sort through the individuals slowly, examine them closely, and spend hours trying to identify them . Sometimes, I have a vague idea what I'm looking at but can't remember the name. But every once in a while, I open a sample and recognize a species right away - because I've seen it before. A specimen of Hiatel

The last B-24

Friends, I come to the blog today not to tell you about my research but to share a film about someone else's work. Last summer, while I was busy counting invertebrates in fouling communities on docks around Woods Hole, Carl was in Croatia. He spent a month there as part of an archaeological team diving in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The mission was to locate and recover the remains of crew members from a B-24 bomber that crashed during WWII - a mission that they eventually fulfilled. A documentary about the expedition and its findings has now been produced by NOVA, the scientific series on PBS. If you are interested in history, archaeology, or diving, I highly recommend you check it out:

The visitor

I came down the stairs to find him at the kitchen table. He looked every bit the professor, with a gray sweater over his collared shirt and glasses on his face. He leaned forward in the chair as he examined a scientific paper on his computer screen. He was deep in thought, immersed in the manuscript. I had seen him like this countless times before, except that it had always been at his kitchen table , not mine. I smiled to myself at the memory of afternoons spent at his house in Stavanger , as we pored over my data , shaped it like clay , and turned it into a meaningful paper . I remembered how hard I had to work to keep up with him, and I reflected proudly on how far I've come since then. My dear friend, Andrew, came to visit me this weekend. He was my advisor when I lived in Norway, and more than anyone else, he's the one who taught me how to think like a scientist . He played a huge role in my intellectual and personal development during my PhD, and he served on my comm

Test run

Today was a productive day! I spent most of it upstairs in a laboratory for molecular biology, learning DNA extraction methods from Hanny. Since our return from Palau , she defended her thesis and received her PhD (congratulations, Dr. Rivera!). Now that the dust has settled, it's time we start processing all of the coral samples we collected . Our first step was to test out two different methods for DNA extraction. Hanny's advisor graciously offered us some DNA extraction kits that were surplus in her lab, but the kits were a bit old and may have lost their effectiveness. We ran an experiment: using old samples from Hanny's PhD work, we extracted DNA using two different types of kits and then used a technique called electrophoresis to see if the extractions had worked (more on that later). It's highly convenient that several companies make standardized kits for DNA extraction, but I had to laugh at the instruction manuals. One of the extraction kits was meant for soi

In print

Dear friends, I am proud to announce that another one of my scientific papers was published today. This manuscript concerns oyster larvae swimming behavior, focusing specifically on why and when larvae swim in helices. The lead author is a former Mullineaux lab intern , Meghan. During the summer of 2017, she conducted two experiments on how oysters behave when exposed to different concentrations of food or a chemical settlement cue, and this paper presents her results from those experiments. This is the first time that a student I have helped advise produced a paper of her own, so I am very proud of Meghan! It's a huge accomplishment for an undergraduate to publish a paper and even more so as lead author. She did a great job! You can find the paper here, in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology :