Amanda: Testing the waters in ocean chemistry

I grew up in Sebastopol, California, a small town just 15 miles from Bodega Bay. I spent much of my time exploring nature as a kid, including frequent trips to the ocean. This contributed to my interest in science. Now, I am majoring in Chemical Engineering and entering my senior year at UC Davis. I decided to get involved in research at the Bodega Marine Laboratory this summer to explore an application of chemistry I had always been curious about, but never had the opportunity to learn.   

I frequently work in the chemistry lab with Jordan Young, analyzing samples from several different experiments in the Hill Lab.  As the main focus of these experiments is ocean acidification and its impact on marine life, we often determine the pH and total alkalinity of water samples to monitor changes in ocean conditions.

In addition, I assist with several projects at the marine lab directly, including the red abalone project, larval/juvenile mussels project, and carbon sequestration in seagrass beds. Some of the work I have done includes collecting water samples, feeding baby abalone, measuring abalone shells from pictures taken under a microscope, and searching for foraminifera in seagrass bed sediment cores. Through this field work, in addition to laboratory analysis, I have already learned so much from my time in Bodega Bay. For example, by helping Sara Boles and Dan Swezey on the Red Abalone Project, I have seen first-hand the effects of increasing acidity on the growth and survival rate of abalone. The variation in size and shape between abalone raised in low CO2 conditions and those in high CO2 conditions is fascinating.

 Baby red abalone in an ongoing experiment to understand the impact of changing ocean chemistry. Photo credit: Tessa Hill.

Baby red abalone in an ongoing experiment to understand the impact of changing ocean chemistry. Photo credit: Tessa Hill.

Prior to working in Bodega Bay, I knew very little about marine biology and the critical role chemistry plays in its study. I have already learned so much from my time at Bodega Marine Lab and how significantly ocean acidification impacts marine life. I am inspired by the innovative research and hard work of everyone at the lab and I can’t wait to learn more as I continue my summer here.

~Amanda Broffman, August 2016

“I have seen first-hand the effects of increasing acidity on the growth and survival rate of abalone.”

 

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