The interns

Hollis joined the lab through his school's 
mentorship program. 
Friends, I want to tell you about something magical that's happening in our lab right now. As you know, I am passionate about mentoring the next generation of scientists. It's why I've taken on a PhD student, a postdoc, and two summer undergraduates at WHOI. If my lab was at a standard university with all sorts of students running around, I would be the professor who proudly offered research opportunities to anyone who wanted the experience. Woods Hole is decidedly short on undergrads, but what we do have are high school students hungry for a chance. 

One student is doing his science fair project under my lab's mentorship for the second year in a row. Two students who did internships with us last year asked if they could come back to keep learning. I also recently signed up for the mentorship program through a high school on Martha's Vineyard and got a fantastic new lab member. Just this week, two more interns started in the lab, and they're already off and running. 

Working with high school students is definitely not something I initially expected from my career, but it's something that I've come to greatly enjoy. Young students require a lot of supervision, but that actually has some good side effects. Every time there's a student in the lab, on of us (usually me or Kharis) ends up sitting at the microscope and working right alongside them. If there are more people than microscopes, we take our laptops out into the lab and watch closely. We end up having wide-ranging conversations with the students and get to know them pretty well. 

K and O hard at work while Kharis stands by to assist. 
These girls are all business.
At first, there is a question about every 30 seconds. "What's that animal?" "Should I keep this specimen?" "Is this what we're looking for?" I do a lot of leaning over, peering through the eyepieces, and then uttering words the students have never heard before. "That's a copepod," or "that's a cyphonautes larva." Sometimes, we have to come up with nicknames - a cyphonautes is "the triangle thing." I love this part.  It is an absolute joy to hover over the students' shoulders and watch them discover the beautiful, intricate world of zooplankton. 

We are extremely fortunate here in Woods Hole to have multiple programs through the local high schools that provide students with opportunities to learn by doing. Even if none of the kids who come through our lab end up as marine biologists, I sincerely hope they will walk away with new knowledge and a bit more confidence.