San Diego, CA
It’s been awhile since my last wrap-up post about up our second and final year in the Aleutians (for this project at least!). Without time to spare the Fall 2017 semester started up and it’s been pedal to the metal every since. While the summer may be long gone, we’re still in the thick of the field season. Most of our updates come from specific projects or adventures; with hardly a down-day since August, I’ve let this blog slide.
Because, the thing is, we early career scientists are always on the move. Between teaching, sampling, analyzing our data, and writing we’ve got almost no time for our personal lives. We’ve all made sacrifices, in some form or another. Late nights with too much coffee, canceling plans with friends, putting off side projects, our personal lives sometimes take a toll. And yet sometimes our professional lives need to be put on pause to take care of family emergencies as well. I’m guilty of feverishly checking the weather and emails when I know something big is on the horizon. I’m doubly guilty of staring off into space, mid-conversation, when a sudden thought about one of the million projects I’m working on pops into my head.
People sometimes forget that we’re both students and scholars. We take classes, but also teach; we’re constantly learning and sharing what we’ve learned. We’re expected to be up to date on current research, analytic techniques and a plethora of other tools and skills. At the end of the day, we’re “truth-seekers”; believe me, it takes a lot of time to seek the truth. Once you find it, you’re probably left wondering if you’ve asked the right question to begin with. And so it beings all over again.
But, we’re rarely alone in our pursuits. It’s the people, as much as the process, that make these projects worthwhile. So, to make things better, here’s a quick behind-the-scenes update:
After a couple of weeks of R&R (sort of) in Alaska, I rendezvoused in California with Tristin. With my finger now healed, I was ready to jump in the water again, and just in time! At the end of August, Tristin and I sampled Stillwater Cove for our respective projects; this would be Tristin’s last time in SWC for her thesis! We got her final sampling trip done, and I got a very successful deployment for my thesis as well.
In the days following the Aleutians cruise, Master Genoa Sullaway successfully defended her thesis! While we’re sad to see her leave the lab, I know she’ll continue to kick butt above and below the surface. Although we’ve lost our MEBSA co-chair, we’ve still managed to keep the MEBSA ship afloat.
On October 16th we hosted Dr. Rodrigo Beas from the Universidad Autoñoma de Baja California for a seminar at SDSU. Not only is Rodrigo an up-and-coming advisor and principle investigator at UABC, he is also my host when I’m working in Baja. Speaking of Baja, I’ve just come back from yet another deployment down there!
I can’t thank my lab mates and field assistants enough. Between frantically submitting grants, feverishly checking the weather, running experiments, writing and grading assignments, and running outreach projects sometimes we lose the kelp forest through the stipes. But, in the end, I wouldn’t trade this for anything! Now I’m sitting pretty for Fall field work, I sampled Point Loma and Baja both before and after working in the Aleutians. Next week I’ll head back to Carmel Bay for one last deployment for 2017 (weather depending of course)!
Stay tuned, while the field season might be winding down, we’re far from hunkering down for the winter.
Baron von Urchin
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary