Adam: Reflecting on the Past, in Years & Kiloannums

Alright. Obligatory introductory post. Whooo! Let’s go. Who am I?  Well, my name is Adam. I recently graduated UC Davis with a major in Marine and Coastal Sciences with a focus in Oceans and the Earth System and a minor in Dramatic Arts. I played the trumpet in the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh and have recently taken up the alto saxophone. I’m a gamer with an unhealthy fascination with the Legend of Zelda series. I have a love of all things natural from the green in a leaf, to the blue in the ocean. I’d tell you about the musical artists I follow, but you’ve probably never heard of them. Television shows I enjoy watching include House M.D., The X-Files, and Please Like Me. So, ultimately I’m trying to answer the question of “who am I?”. I would have to say, I’m sort of a nerd.

I’ve always been most at peace by the ocean with both its peaceful beaches and roaring waves crashing against hardened cliffs. When I came to UC Davis, I figured that I wanted to do something environmental. I wanted to do something that mattered. I found the Marine and Coastal Science Major and somehow managed to make my way to graduation. I’m now working in the Hill lab for a short while. I’m looking for other jobs that will help me get a better idea of what I really want to be doing with the rest of my life. Once I figure that out, I’ll be looking to apply to grad school. Here’s to me!

While enrolled at Davis, my studies brought me out to Bodega Marine Lab. One class required the students to conduct a research project. My classes before this opportunity had recently piqued my interest in micropaleontology.  As such, I decided to make this subject the topic of my summer research.  

Having an interest in a certain subject, I found, was not enough to make a research project. I didn’t have the knowledge to really drive myself in the correct direction. Fortunately, my major advisor and Bodega professor, Tessa Hill, helped me with that. She introduced me to then post-doctoral scholar, Sarah Myhre and her research using sediment cores to determine marine ecological responses to abrupt global climate change. Sediment cores were obtained from the Santa Barbara Basin. The sediment core that became the basis of my research, MV0811-15JC, already had recorded microfossils that were placed on slides in accordance with their depth in the core. The core recorded geological time from 3 to 16.1 kiloannums (3,000 to 16,100 years ago).

For my research project, I documented the occurrences of predation on a few species of microfossil mollusks. The types of predation I was studying, previously identified by Dr. Myhre, were from annelids, crustacean, or gastropods.

Light microscope photo of a  Gadilidae  Scaphopod - with a bore-hole predation scar from a gastropod. Photo provided by Dr. S. Myhre.

Light microscope photo of a Gadilidae Scaphopod - with a bore-hole predation scar from a gastropod. Photo provided by Dr. S. Myhre.

There is a considerable amount of stress involved with working with microfossils. In order to manipulate the orientation of the fossils, I had to use a wet fine paintbrush that was already much larger than the subject fossils. On one of my first days working on documentation, I managed to flick a single grain of sediment out of the slide and onto the table I was working on. I then proceeded to have an internal emotional breakdown while my face just stayed locked in place staring blankly at the wall. After reclaiming sanity, I somehow managed to find the grain and return it to the slide. Fear of reliving that moment took its toll on my efficiency. I did, through many long days and nights, eventually complete the documentation and began interpreting my data.

This type of research is significant because it allows scientists to observe the ways that ecosystems react to changes in ocean oxygen through time. This information may, in turn, be used to predict how ecosystems in present day will react to changes in their environment. This type of research is becoming more important as we are observing changes in our ocean’s oxygen today. I’d like to say that by participating in this field, I’ll be making a difference -- that I’ll be doing something that matters.

This blog, at its core, is a means to document the scientific work I have be conducting in the lab and its importance. Here, I offer my readers to join me on a journey into the unknown of the world, the eccentricity of my mind, and the paradoxical fear and hope in my eyes. Next time around, I hope to explore the work I’ve recently been doing with Dr. Catherine Davis.


Adam, one of the first 6 students to graduate with a B.S. in Marine & Coastal Science from UC Davis 

Adam, one of the first 6 students to graduate with a B.S. in Marine & Coastal Science from UC Davis