Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bridget Begay - Week 1: Introduction

Hello everyone!

My name is Bridget Begay and I recently graduated from Edmonds Community College with an Associates of Arts in Biology. This fall, I will be transferring to University of Oregon with a major in Marine Biology, most likely towards field work and lab work with large marine mammals. There are a couple reasons why I would like to get into the marine biology. First, there is little representation of Native American students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field. I think that Native students can take their strong cultural background and their education to empower and strengthen themselves and their tribal communities. It's challenging for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields due to various reasons, i.e. no opportunities to attend college, no support, etc. I was thankful to come across a program that supports and encourages under represent minorities. While I attended Edmonds C.C., I was recommended the MESA Program (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement), this program has helped me become confident in pursuing a PhD in Marine Biology but also giving back to the community and networking with other students. Second, I have such a high interest in marine biology because the ocean is the most undiscovered habitat on Earth and there is so much diversity to be discovered and studied, especially whale sharks! In the future, I would like to collaborate with Native American tribes and assist with the health of their tribal land, especially fisheries. I would also like to assist my own community on the Navajo Reservation, which would be a large animal veterinarian for sheep, horses and cow. I decided to apply to COSEE PRIME because I heard about it the internship through VerĂ³nica Guajardo, an Assistant Director for MESA Community College Program (WA-MCCP). This internship looked like an excellent opportunity to meet new people in marine science and network with professionals in the marine biology field.

The project that I'm participating this summer is with Dr. Waldo Wakefield, Research Fisheries Biologist - NOAA Fisheries and Mr. Matthew Yergey, Fisheries Biologist - Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The project as described and titled on the COSEE PRIME internship website, "Characterization of the near shore soft sediment fish community of the central Oregon coast", during the late 1970s research was conducted by small-mesh beam trawl surveys of the Central Oregon coast, indicating a representation of Oregon's soft-sediment fish populations in waters shallower than 60 meters. A few examples of caught Oregon's soft-sediment fish species are Pacific tomcod (Microgadus proximus), English sole (Parophrys vetulus), speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus) and most of the data collections of the beam trawls do include newly settled flatfishes as the dominant populations. Recent research done in 2008 to the present have supplied comparable surveys from about 30 to 100 meter depth to previous data due to similarities in sampling gear, methodologies, season and spatial coverage. Recent research has been contributing to the Nearshore Ecological Data Atlas (NEDA) for Oregon State waters. I will be working with another COSEE Intern, Matthew Mischke. We will be conducting data entry from the late 1970s small-mesh beam trawl surveys, analysis in the lab, and field work along the Oregon coast for sample collection and processing aboard a research vessel. I will also be participating in present surveys and conducting initial comparisons between the previous and modern data to characterize patterns of juvenile fish species composition in relation to season, location, bottom temperature, and type. 

The first week here at Hatfield Marine Science Center has been interesting to walk around the campus, meeting professionals and attending students who are working on various projects and programs. In my internship, I've been trained to input beam trawl data sheets from the late 70's to input into a program system called, Fisheries Oceanography Information System Ver. 1.60 (FIOS), where all of the beam trawl data is located.  This week was also the first seminar, Markus Horning, Associate Professor from the Marine Mammal Institute - OSU, I found this presentation to be interesting because it was a insight on why and how juvenile stellar sea lions mortality occur along the Alaskan coast. 

The following Saturday, the group visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The aquarium visit was engaging and we saw live marine organisms. Here are several pictures of the aquarium visit. 

Japanese spider crab
Moon jellyfish
Strawberry sea anemones  

Ochre star

Sand dollars

A tufted puffin!

A underside view of shark from Passages of the Deep

Thank you for reading!

Bridget B.

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