Showing posts from November, 2023

New kid on the block

"I'm a new kid on the block Though I may not be Johann Sebastian Bach" - "New Kid (on the Block)" by BNL Whenever a new person sits down at a microscope in the lab, it takes a few minutes for them to get oriented. They have to learn to adjust the eyepieces to fit the width of their face. They take a minute to find the focus knob, then scroll up and down until the specimen comes into clear view. It's a process.  Some pteropod larvae (baby snails) in the sample I showed H.  I have a new high schooler in the lab, H, thanks to a mentoring program at a local high school. The mentorship in my lab is the first time he's been exposed to tiny animals like larvae, but he's very eager to learn. I showed him how to use the microscope, adjust the eyepieces, change focus, and make himself comfortable. I stood back. "What do you see?" I asked. At this point in the process, the student usually mentions something about copepods. They won't know what the

The spawning paper

Man, it's hard to believe a few weeks have already gone by. As the adage goes, time flies when you're having fun. In this case, it seems I lost track of time while...well, having fun.  My favorite part of my job is writing. In fact, I wish I had known back in college how much of my time I would spend writing as a scientist. It is so indescribably satisfying to take a set of data, condense it down into a few clear patterns, and then fill pages with words to tell the world what you've found.  Newly settled Porites lobata corals. The past few weeks, I've been writing about a coral. You know it well - Porites lobata , the species my team has worked on in Palau since 2018. Over the past two years, we figured out  when  P. lobata  spawns , got colonies to spawn in the lab in Palau, reared the larvae , and even  settled them on tiles . Along the way, we made really important observations - what cues make the adults spawn, what size the eggs are, how quickly the larvae deve

Circle, circle, barnacle

Earlier this fall, I received a very exciting email. A local high school student who had worked with my lab last year wondered if I would mentor him through his science fair project again. I immediately answered yes! My lab has a lot going on right now, so there were plenty of options to choose from. The student, Erik, is very interested in biofouling, so I decided to entrust him with a dataset from the high Arctic. As some of you might remember, Kharis successfully recovered CATAIN from its spot at 79 N last August. The camera yielded fantastic image data showing settlement and post-settlement mortality in a fouling community over 8 months. It's an incredible dataset with really exciting, novel information hidden within.  Kharis and Erik working together on CATAIN images. In order to go from images to numbers to understanding, someone has to sit down and circle all the barnacles. That's right - our images are chock full of barnacles . Beyond just counts, we can use a specia