Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Consider this a prologue:

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. While my proximity to the ocean certainly influenced my development and shaped my childhood experiences, I didn’t always know I wanted to be a marine biologist, nor was I always interested in science. Once you’re hooked, though, there’s no going back! In high school I participated in a marine science course at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole. It was more or less an abbreviated version of their semester program—10 days on land in classes and 10 days at sea on the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot brigantine. Needless to say I had an amazing time.

Since then, I’ve been seeking out marine-related internships and courses. I met Dr. Tim Shank (my advisor here at WHOI) at the March 2008 Ocean Science Meeting in Orlando, FL. I was there to present a poster about research I conducted at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) through a Research Experience for Undergraduates internship during the summer of 2007.

I’ve been interested in Dr. Shank’s work since I learned about hydrothermal vents in high school (coincidentally while I was in the SEA program) and was nervous to meet him—it’s scary to meet a researcher whose science is so cool that you almost feel unworthy of even meeting them! After collecting my thoughts, I introduced myself at his poster presentation and tried to ask the smartest questions I could muster. I soon learned about the guest student program here and that, even though I’d missed the 2008 Summer Student Fellow (SSF) application deadline, I could still apply to come as a guest student. I e-mailed Tim my resume and he encouraged me to apply. That’s how I ended up at WHOI last summer. I loved it so much that I came back this year as a SSF!

This May I graduated from the double degree program at Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology (minor in politics) and Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance. The SSF program is unique in that you can apply while you’re a senior and come after you graduate, which is not the case with many undergraduate fellowships. I’m taking a year off before graduate school—after 5 years of college I thought I’d benefit from some learning away from the classroom—and a summer at WHOI is a fabulous way to kick off my year of exploration and personal growth.

Whew. With that out the way, I promise never to talk that much about myself again! While the primary goal of this blog is to chronicle my summer in the SSF program, I also hope that future entries will give you a sense of (1) why I think science is so cool and (2) why I think WHOI is so cool.

Until next time,

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