Showing posts from October, 2019

Ophelina meyerae

"Oh, I'll just check my messages quick," I thought, chewing the last of my breakfast as I prepared to step out the door. I scrolled through the bolded subject lines of my unread e-mails, some important, some not, until one of them caught my eye: You are about to have a polychaete named after you! I stopped short. Could this be real? The sender was Dr. Adrian Glover , a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London. I know Adrian; we had been on a research expedition together in 2015, and he's also the president of the Deep-Sea Biology Society . My curiosity was piqued.  I opened the message, and sure enough, it was real. Here's how it happened: When the Abyssline project started, Adrian's team knew they would have a lot of new species in their samples from the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (after all, it is a severely understudied area of the deep sea). When you describe a new species, you have to name it. So Adrian and his collaborators came

Stretch out

"Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be." - Hope Jahren in Lab Girl Leaning back in the seat, I stretched out my legs under the steering wheel. It was only 7 am, but traffic was already thick on highway 3. I was headed up to Boston for the day to meet with my collaborator, Hanny . Analyzing all the genetic data from our coral samples from Palau  is a big job. So big, in fact, that it requires more than your standard computer. There's actually a whole field, called bioinformatics, which centers around the analysis of large sets of biological data. I had never dabbled in bioinformatics before, but Hanny is good at it. She learned how to analyze genomic datasets during her PhD, so she agreed to give me an introduction to the techniques. Hanny, Niku, and I in her office at BU We spent all day in her office at Boston University with h

Study nature

Seen in the WHOI-MBL library "Study nature, not books" - Louis Agassiz The sign at right hangs in the entrance to the WHOI-MBL library on Water Street in Woods Hole. The sentiment seems odd for a library, but it hearkens back to the early days. Louis Agassiz is one of the fathers of marine research in the United States, who for years lead field schools for students and scientists in Woods Hole. His message to his fellow professors was clear: discoveries are made outdoors. I've spent a considerable amount of time with books over the past couple of weeks, as I try to work my way through the samples I collected in the Arctic. As you might recall, I got a lot of specimens of Bouillonia cornucopia , a hydroid that colonized my fouling panels . I had observed the hydroids to have gonadal tissue between their two rings of tentacles, and I thought the small spherical structures were eggs. But while I was certain the pink, branching tissue was involved in reproduction, the