Q: What do grad students do during the summer?
A: Thesis! Work! Everything!
We are lucky enough to be at the center of the Monterey Bay, and summers are the perfect time to take advantage of the large marine research community in the area.
This summer I am working as an intern at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), just across the water from Moss Landing Marine Labs in Moss Landing. MBARI’s research focuses on the development and use of marine technology as well as the exploration and monitoring of the ocean. As an intern there, I am working with Drs. Jim Bellingham and Julio Harvey on correlating optical measurements of zooplankton with molecular methods in the laboratory. These measurements will allow us to have a better understanding of the data sent back from in situ instruments as well as giving a better idea of the effects of confounding factors in both the optical and molecular measurements.
In the few weeks I’ve been here, there have been a lot of familiar faces around MBARI. Several other MLML students are taking advantage of MBARI’s facilities to work on projects related to their these, including a couple of my fellow interns, Vignesh Soundararajan and Diane Wyse, who are working with Francisco Chavez and Jim Bellingham respectively.
All the technicalities of the work aside, one of the best parts of working at MBARI is getting to go out on research cruises. MBARI has two large ships, the Western Flyer, which goes out for weeks or months at a time, and the Rachel Carson, which hosts the daily cruises out of Moss Landing.
Myself and four other interns were able to join a cruise with Dr. Jim Barry’s lab deploying several instruments, as well as collecting urchins (Allocentrotus fragilis) with the ROV Ventana for experiments involving ocean acidification.
As part of my time on the cruise, I conducted net tows to collect zooplankton. I had hoped to isolate several organisms from these tows to run molecular analyses on, however the taxa I had wanted were absent from the samples.
Unfortunate, but it just means I’ll have to go out on the Rachel Carson again sometime.
I’m looking forward to many more adventures this summer, both with my internship at MBARI and my thesis research at MLML.