Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jonathan's Week One: Preparation for Great Experiences

Week one is in the books!

My name is Jonathan Robertson and I was a student at Portland Community College before applying for the COSEE internship working with settlement and disbursement rates of juvenile rockfish in Yaquina Bay. I finished my transfer degree this past spring and will be continuing my education at Oregon State University this fall! I have been interested in marine life since a young age, although I did not have strong backing or understanding of the scientific realm. Two professors I had the pleasure of getting to know had encouraged me to seek out and apply for a COSEE internship as a good way to help me transition from a community college to research and education within a four year university. I am very pleased to have been accepted as an intern with the Heppell Lab. This summer I will be working with Vincent Politano on developing and executing an independent project, and to be able to help some of Drs. Selina and Scott Heppell's graduate students with their current research. A part of the first week has been dedicated to arrival, orientation, and getting to know the other COSEE, Sea Grant, REU interns, and getting to know my mentor for the summer, Vince Politano. 

The project will involve trapping juvenile fishes in two estuary locations, one along the south jetty coming into the bay, the other off a dock not too far from the end of the jetty entrance. At each of the locations we will use equipment to test for salinity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen to start to "paint the picture" of the fishes' environment. In addition to those environmental factors will be identifying the number of species to calculate species diversity, the number of individuals of each observed species to help identify species richness, and the length of each individual. Trapping will occur two times a week at each of the two sites. The collection period will start July 9th and last four weeks, giving us sixteen sets of data, eight from each site. Once all of the data has been collected Vince and I will use JMP and other statistical analysis software to look for trends that might develop into further research proposals/projects. Other outputs will be a presentation poster, a GIS map of the sampling locations used, and a PowerPoint slide show for a  presentation to be given to a group of peers.

Vince and I have spent a good deal of time this week planning the design of and troubleshooting the independent project that we have decided on. After going through the process of project design, and being really careful to try and account for all obstacles, it is really amazing how sometimes the simplest things can still slip one's mind. For instance, the south jetty location that Vince and I had visited and decided to use for trapping was very easily accessible during low tide. High tide proved to be a different story. The original walkway to the trapping site during high tide was under water for two thirds of the distance between the access point and the trap location, a total of about twenty meters. Waders are the solution for this instance thought we may not have known that they were needed for this project had a site visit not been performed at both low and high tides. Just one reason good planning is essential for field work and science in general. 

More to come about my happening coming soon!



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