Walker: Reflections on a summer of research

 Sampling seagrass sediments with B. O'Donnell in Bodega Harbor, CA. Photo credit: A. Ninokawa

Sampling seagrass sediments with B. O'Donnell in Bodega Harbor, CA. Photo credit: A. Ninokawa

Though it was a mere few weeks ago that I was in the midst of the most influential research project I have had the privilege to work on, I am currently sitting on my couch, reflecting on the valuable experiences I gained during my short summer at the Bodega Marine Lab. This iteration of my blog hopes to touch on the various projects I helped with throughout my summer. My main focus remained on working with Brady O’Donnell in research on carbon sequestration, but I was also able to participate in many biological projects as well.

Alongside Emily Rivest, a postdoctoral scholar, I learned how to set and process "tuffies". Quite simply they are blue mesh pot scrubbers that mimic the byssal threads of mussels. Bolted to the rocky intertidal, these tuffies attract organisms from juvenile mussels, to worms, to small crabs and isopods. Once ready for processing, the tuffies are brought into the lab, cut open, and meticulously searched through for microscopic mussels. Once the mussels are collected, each is photographed, measured, and weighed. This information will help us understand how juvenile mussels in the rocky intertidal are reacting, physiologically, to environmental stressors.

Another example of my biological experience at the Bodega Marine Lab was a predator-prey interaction study between the marine Tegula snail, or Black Turban snail, and sea stars. Conducted by graduate student Brittany Jellison, I worked with a team of motivated individuals that stayed up four nights in a row performing the research. The goal of the research was to analyze how ocean chemistry affects the response of Tegula snails to their natural predators. 

Yes, my time at the Bodega Marine Lab has come to a close, but I have a strong hankering that I’ll be back again to expand my knowledge of marine ecosystems. From taking core samples in sea grass beds to collecting mussels, I’ve practiced many strategies to approach the communal issue that is ocean acidification. It is an issue that should, will, and is not being ignored thanks to the students and professors at the Bodega Marine Lab. Finally, I would like to give a special thanks to Tessa Hill and Brady O’Donnell, two of the fine individuals that are shaping the scientific world as we know it. I cannot wait to see what comes next.

~Walker Calhoun, August 2016

 Bodega Marine Laboratory. Photo credit: Tessa Hill

Bodega Marine Laboratory. Photo credit: Tessa Hill

I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Want to learn more about student research projects? See below.