Wow, what a semester! Being immersed in marine science research for the past six months at Bigelow (if you count my summer internship) has been both exciting and exhausting. We finished up our final presentations on Friday and celebrated with a holiday party. I got home early Saturday morning and it’s an adjustment to not be on a schedule or to be surrounded by scientists all day every day.
Me being surrounded by scientists [left- Dr. Pete Countway (microbial ecologist), right- Dr. Doug Rasher (community ecologist)]
We weren’t able to actually quantify the lacy bryozoans like we had originally hoped, but we finally made some progress in the form of DNA sequences! Using a BLAST search (think Google for DNA sequences), we were able to find lacy bryozoan DNA sequences from other parts of the world, like Europe, Australia, and Washington and compare them with ones from Maine. We also found ones from Maine in our BLAST search. The cool thing is that the Maine/North Atlantic lacy bryozoan sequences were distinct from Pacific ones, reinforcing the likelihood invasive lacy bryozoans in the Gulf of Maine were brought over from Europe, not Asia.
This is a great jumping off point for continuing my research next spring. We now have enough information to make our own molecular assay to detect these organisms. Now we just have to test it out. It’s good to take a breath from my research for a little bit, even though I love what I do.
It’s goodbye for now, not forever-
I’m going on a six-week research expedition with Bigelow scientists, leaving in early January! We’re going to leave out of Durban, South Africa and head towards the 60th parallel to study the coccolithophores I mentioned in my last post as well as the different water masses that make up the Southern Ocean. I feel very lucky to get the opportunity to go on a blue-water research expedition as a college junior- I’ve been told that most people don’t go on one of these until well after their PhD.
After that, I’ll be presenting my research from this summer on Antarctic bacteria at the annual ASLO aquatic sciences meeting in Puerto Rico and hopefully work on publishing.
Then I’ll be heading to Bermuda for a 1-week research cruise studying iron in the ocean with Bigelow chemists.
And in March, I’ll finally be back to work on my project which I hope to transition into an honors thesis.
I bet you’re asking yourself “how on earth can she do all of this as a college student?!”
Well, I won’t be next spring. I’m taking a leave of absence to do all of this research! At first, I was uncertain about it because it’s not what Colby students normally do. But I’m so glad I made that decision! Opportunities like these don’t come along every day. It’ll be like a part two to the Changing Oceans semester for me!
I’m so grateful to have been able to spend so much time at Bigelow this year. It’s been a great kickstart to my dream career of marine biology and a wonderful learning opportunity.
I’ll be keeping a blog/Twitter/something like that about the expedition this January, but until then, smooth sailing to everyone!