I have answered this question more times than I can count since September. My colleagues, friends, and family members have been curious as to why someone who studies plants, can suddenly switch to studying fish for a semester.
“Why would you spend 35 days on a boat just to filter seawater?”
This was the most common question (second most common was: “Don’t you get seasick?”) that I received as I explained what I would be doing during the GOMECC trip to my friends and family. The biology component of the GOMECC trip does include lots of filtering of water onto specialty glass fiber filters, but the research does not stop there!
Summer ‘tis the season of studies from geology to ornithology and everything in between. I study wild berry species to try to find what environmental factors have the strongest influence on berry productivity. With no other wild fruits in Alaska, berries are an important natural and cultural resource, one that is becoming increasingly variable.
For three weeks every summer, undergraduate students from the South Central United States, representing a wide range of cultural backgrounds participate in the “Undergraduate Summer Internship for Underrepresented Minorities” program to visit and learn about climate impacts in the South Central Climate Science Center Region (SC CSC). This year participants spent the balmy month of July starting at Louisiana State University, moving to the University of Oklahoma, and finally ending their trip at Texas Tech University.
This summer, I spent two weeks on a seabird research island as part of my internship with the Northeast Climate Science Center, Five College Coastal & Marine Sciences Program, and Audubon Project Puffin. Project Puffin, based out of Bremen, Maine is a seabird restoration program founded by the National Audubon Society in 1973. Each summer, Project Puffin sends volunteers to seven research islands to monitor nesting seabirds.
When I tell people that I study the vulnerability of salt marshes to sea-level rise in California, the typical responses are “What’s a salt marsh?” or “We have those in California?”. Because most of California’s salt marshes are small, and isolated by development and topography, these questions don’t surprise me.
During the summer I am beyond fortunate to be one of the research supervisors on Seal Island NWR (restricted access). In addition, I recently finished my first semester as a Master’s Fellow with the Northeast Climate Science Center at UMass Amherst. SINWR is one of the study sites for my thesis focusing on shifts in the phenology of Sterna sp. of terns as well as their prey in the Gulf of Maine. These species include the Arctic, Common and the federally listed Roseate Tern.
As a climatologist, it’s not often when I get out of the office and away from working with climate data and projections. The closest I normally get to working in the bush are the occasional times I get out to give a tour at a weather station, or do station maintenance. So when I had the opportunity to join some ecologists in Puerto Rico for a day out during their field season, it was quite a treat.