Showing posts from July, 2023

Team Porites online

It's not every day that I pop out of bed and make it to work before 8 am, but yesterday, I was super motivated. I had an 8 am meeting with Team Porites .  "Hang on, let me get a picture!" - Sarah Davies That's right, we got all of us online at the same time! It was 8 am in Massachusetts, 2 pm in Europe, and 9 pm in Palau - the only time that all of us could be reasonably expected to be awake and mentally functional. I'm so glad we were able to make it work.  Since parting ways in Palau at the end of May , each member of the team has been working on their own set of samples and data. Matthew shared updates on the paper he's writing about spawning in Porites lobata , and I was super excited to hear about his progress. "The spawning paper," as we've started calling it, reports our observations of P. lobata spawning in Palau, describes the larval development , and lays the foundation for future studies on this common species. We even decided to inc

The nuptial dance of the nereids: part 2

Jeff and Michal hard at work in my lab,  preparing worms for an experiment.  It is a hot, rainy July in Woods Hole, and my lab is buzzing. My postdoc, Johanna, is running PCRs on deep-sea amphipods. My PhD student, Kharis, is sorting animals from Arctic sediment samples under the microscope. And my visitors, Jeff and Michal, are exclaiming over worms in a dish.  That's right, my worm-obsessed summer guests are back in Woods Hole! Jeff wrote to me earlier this year to ask if it was ok for him and his wife to use my lab again for a week while they ran experiments on spawning polychaete worms. They were such excellent guests, I was happy to host them again.  Jeff's target species is  Nereis succinea,  a wiggly segmented worm that swims to the surface on dark nights around the new moon. The females spin in circles while releasing pheromones, and the males are stimulated by the pheromones to spawn. It's super fascinating to watch - the response is nearly instantaneous. Normall


"We should do a lab dinner sometime this summer," Johanna suggested. That's how the conversation started back in late May. I loved the idea. Some of my favorite memories as a student were dinners with my research group. Honestly, work sessions that blended into dinners at Andrew Sweetman's house in Norway are what made me into the scientist that I am.  Meyer-Kaiser lab clamming 2023. Photo by Andrew Corso. The plan for a summer lab dinner gradually morphed and grew. We decided to include our partners. Then Kharis suggested we could forage some of our ingredients. The after-work dinner turned into a mid-afternoon clam hunt followed by homemade clam chowder at my house.  We left work about 3 and parked at Kharis's house. From there, we walked the few minutes to Main Street and took in the summer arts and crafts fair - may as well enjoy the atmosphere while we can. Then 5 of us piled into Kharis's car, surrounded by buckets and rakes. We drove out to a spot in

ROV Lobstermoose: part 2

"Hey look, I match the ROV!" - Kharis Schrage It was a sunny summer day in Woods Hole. Tourists sauntered along Water Street, crowding the sidewalk and shops. Small, lazy waves lapped against the seawall in Eel Pond. The air smelled of algae and shellfish.  In the midst of this idyllic scene, two scientists squatted on wooden beams on the edge of Eel Pond. One of them opened a heavy black case and began plugging cords into their respective ports. The other slowly lowered a lime-green robot into the sea. With the twist of a joystick, ROV Lobstermoose descended and zoomed away. The lime-green shell was still visible a meter below the murky surface. The two scientists called back and forth as they tested the vehicle's steering and got to know how it moved. It may have looked like aquatic playtime, but the scientists were training for a research mission in the far north.  Friends, I am super excited that my little ROV (named Lobstermoose after my friend's dog ) is heade

The handoff

Science is a team sport. Imagine, if you will, a relay race. A pair of scientists start off the race in 2021. They run (or swim, if we're being literal) side-by-side while collecting corals in Palau. They collect a total of 4 species , spanning a range of families and growth forms. As they jog together on the track, one of them departs and the other continues alone, carrying all the samples in her arms. One by one, she crushes the coral samples to extract their DNA. This section of the track has several hurdles, so she jumps and glides and keeps crushing the corals, one by one.  And then, the runner rounds the bend, metaphorical baton in hand, and sees her teammate ahead. She finds fresh motivation and speeds up her pace, charging head-long toward the critical handoff. She passes the coral DNA to her teammate, who then continues along the track. That's right, friends, I finally handed off all the hundreds of corals I've been working on over the past several months. I have

The Portland in music

Friends, I want to share something actually really exciting with you. Recently, I've been collaborating with an organization called Sound Explorations to fuse science and art in a really unique way. Sound Explorations teaches science concepts through music. The idea is to make science accessible to people who don't relate to or can't access the traditional ways that science is presented (mostly visual), including people who are neurodivergent, blind, or visually impaired.  A screenshot from the video, showing some of the animals that colonize the shipwreck over time.  Sound Explorations' education director, Terry Wolkowicz, and their music director, David MacKenzie, got in contact with Calvin and me a little bit ago. They had already worked on a project with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and were looking to expand their content. Over the past few months, I've fielded emails from Terry about how organisms colonize shipwrecks. How do the animals move, wha