by Amanda Kahn, Invertebrate Zoology and Molecular Ecology Lab
Summertime at the labs is an industrious time, with many of us working hard on our thesis projects while we don’t have to worry about classes. Our time here at MLML is divided into two major stages: the stage when we take classes like oceanography, laboratory techniques, and background classes (like marine botany or a class about birds, turtles, and mammals), and the stage when we work on our own research project. The class stage is really important–it allows us to choose what field interests us, and what kinds of research are going on in that field. We take the classes so we can learn about a field and start asking questions. We keep asking questions and learning more until finally our questions can’t be answered–because the answers haven’t been figured out yet. That is where the thesis research comes in!
Once we come up with a question that is interesting to us and unknown in the world so far, then we design a research project and follow the steps of the scientific method to address that question to the best of our abilities. It’s a little sample of what scientific research is like. From doing a thesis project, we students can figure out if we are interested in becoming scientific researchers or if we prefer non-research science pursuits.
Even if a student ultimately decides not to go into research, however, everyone conducts research while they are here at MLML. That is why the hallways are quiet right now–everyone is holed up in their labs working on their research projects, or sitting at home reading about possible project ideas.
Or, the hallways may just be quiet because it’s summer and the beach is only a 5 minute walk away…