Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jess - Plankton and the Surf-Zone

Most of my friends call me Jess but my full name is Jessica Noseff. Coming from the small town of Silverton, Oregon and being unsure of the exact career I want to pursue, I decided to take the cheaper route of attending a community college before investing a large amount of money in a University. I got accepted into a Scholars program at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon where I was introduced to an intriguing variety of people and also where I got to know an inspiring biology teacher that would encourage me to apply for the PRIME internship. When the opportunity for me to apply came up I had just found out that my boss would be moving across the state in May and I would be out of a job, so I didn't hesitate.

I've always been fascinated by the ocean and the beautiful creatures in it, but standing on the sandy beach, sometimes up to my knees in the water, I have always only admired it from a distance with a cautious respect. As far as learning about it, my knowledge extends to what I've seen on Planet Earth and other shows of the sort and not very much further. My human curiosity was a large instigator of my applying for this internship as well as my desire to experience something I have never gotten the chance to experience before.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, I am working under Dr. Alan Shanks from the University of Oregon with collaboration from a team of oceanographers from the Naval Post-graduate school, as well as Dr. Steven Morgan from UC Davis, on a three year grant studying how larval invertebrates are affected by ocean currents. We are spending the first month of my internship doing field work in Carmel Bay, which has a rocky shore and is considered to be a reflective beach. Using a kayak, we collect samples of zooplankton and phytoplankton from offshore waters and we use a hose and pump to collect plankton samples from the surf-zone. After preserving the samples, we count and differentiate the individuals and species in order to compare them to last year's samples collected from a dispersive beach, which has more water exchange within the surf-zone. Once we return to OIMB, we will be spending our time in the lab counting the samples. The third year of the grant (next year) will be dedicated to analyzing the data and publishing the results.

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