Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fieldwork Finds

While it is thrilling contributing to the great pillar that is science, some of my favorite moments are generated from unearthing something new and interesting almost every time I’m out in the field.

Today while I was digging up some oysters in order to install a sediment trap, I was surprised when a fish skipped out of the muddy hole and landed nearby. And then while trying to re-home him nearby, he happily chomped down on the end of my garden cultivator. Can’t say I entirely blame him. I both caved in the walls of his condo and then unceremoniously moved him an inconvenient distance from it. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Research on the Reef (Or How I Learned to Love the Oyster)

I am in Marineland, a town south of St. Augustine, covered in muck, standing on an oyster reef offshore. My dingy garage-sale kayak, which I have recently dubbed the “Oystercatcher” (potentially a tongue-in-cheek name amusing only to me) sits unceremoniously nearby, full to the brim with random pieces of equipment – muddy work gloves, needle nose pliers, zip ties, lengths of rebar and PVC pipe. I free the buckets I’ve lashed to the back of the boat with fluorescent green lengths of nylon rope. This is one of several trips I have taken to test the design of sediment traps, constructed from said buckets and netting, which I will use for my research. Over two weeks, I will relate what the oysters produce as faeces and pseudofaeces (rejected food particles), collectively called biodeposits, to inorganic matter in the surrounding waters. I will use this to reveal how much and how fast these bivalves filter feed.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Broadening our View on Conferences: Science with a Twist of Culture

Summer conference season has come and gone; poster tubes have been put back on the shelf and handy back up thumb drives of .pptx files are tossed in a drawer. After months, or perhaps years of full immersion in lab work, reading papers, and TAing classes, scientific conferences provide momentary contact with real scientists doing real research- much like meeting the actors you watch on TV.  For a graduate student, attending a conference is tantamount to a vacation. The light-heartedness of that statement in no way detracts from the importance of meetings. Attendance is an investment in your future as a scientist; it provides networking opportunities for future employment or graduate school, a platform to share and discuss your research, motivation and inspiration to complete your research, and a source for learning about current research.
What conference to attend is influenced by your advisor, financial ability, and application to your research. Most of my colleagues attend the same three or four conferences a year. However, due to recent experience (and the subject of this blog) I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to conferences.
I recently attended the Annual Science Conference for the International Council of the Sea (ICES) in La Coruna, Spain. The diversity of people (570 attendees from 35 countries) and research (from ocean acidification to telemetry) made the meeting unforgettable. A total of 17 theme sessions with 287 oral presentations and 105 posters provided fertile ground to explore areas of marine science I never pursued in academia or industry.