For the past seven weeks, I have been so lucky to participate in the Stanford Earth Young Investigators: History of Life Internship.
August 10, 2020
For the past seven weeks, I have been so lucky to participate in the Stanford Earth Young Investigators: History of Life Internship. After the first weeks of learning about Ecology and the R statistical computational language, we began our research project observing the risk of extinction and body size for molluscs in the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction (LOME). It was just so amazing that we, high school students, were able to conduct research that no one in the academic field of Paleontology has ever done before! Even more astounding is that my teammates, Ilinca and Addy, and I will have the chance to present our research in the American Geophysical Union Conference with other research projects by doctorates, graduate students, and undergrads from across the United States.
On August 6th, 2020, the final day of our program, my teammates and I presented our research project, entitled Identifying Driving Factors of Extinction and Body Size for Molluscs During the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction. While the presentation itself went great and it was incredibly amazing to see the other group’s projects and results, it was a bittersweet moment as it was the last day of the program. I have very much enjoyed my time as a Stanford Earth Young Investigator: History of Life Intern, and it was sad to see the program end. However, we all, both interns and instructors, will continue to stay in touch in lieu of the American Geophysical Union Conference in December, and as Dr. Jonathan Payne, lab leader of the History of Life internship would say, “Once a lab member … always a lab member.”
Before I end this blog, I would just like to thank the many people who made the SEYI program possible despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to Dr. Monarrez for the outstanding guidance and structure and for patiently helping us from 9:00 AM in the mornings every day. Thank you to Mr. Pimentel-Galvan for the help learning R and with the poster design. Thank you Dr. Saltzman for helping set the program up and for the extremely informative SEYI Educational sessions. Thank you to Dr. Payne for answering our questions, letting us attend lab meetings, and for the History of Life program itself.
I strongly recommend the Stanford Earth Young Investigators Program. From the fun activities to the like-minded peers I have met, this program is truly remarkable and memorable. While the program itself ended, the internship will continue on through the fall, and the skills and friendships I gained at SEYI will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I came into the SEYI program wanting to learn
July 10, 2020
I came into the SEYI program wanting to learn more about our planet and its history. Just three weeks into the program, I realized that I have learned and gained so much more. Within just the first week, we explored both the genetic and ecological biodiversity in our ecosystems. We were taught methods in which scientists can measure species diversity such as Shannon’s Diversity Index. In the first two days, we plunged into the history of the Earth, starting from the beginning of our planet to the commencement of life itself. We discussed how stromatolites of cyanobacteria present today provide evidence of early life and windows into the past. Learning about the apparent connections between oxygen and major jumps in species complexity unraveled the importance of oxygen on biodiversity.
Then, in the second week, under the guidance of Pedro and Michael, we were introduced to R. I loved the practice problem sets that seemed like complex puzzles until, after the first couple of days of instructions from Pedro, they finally began to click. By the end of the week, seeing the cool charts and graphs that I was able to make with just a couple of lines of code made learning a new language all the more interesting. I am excited to learn more about R and to use it to complete my very own research project.
Now, in the coming weeks, my teammates and I are getting ready to analyze the data from the Ordovician period to see if there is a correlation between body size, extinction, and oxygen. We will be exploring the ancient mollusks and using statistical analysis to make important conclusions in the field of paleobiology. Together, we will be doing experiments that no one has done before. How cool is that⁉️ After we have completed this analysis, we will get our own chance to write abstracts and design display boards, which we will get to present at the American Geophysical Union Conference. I am so excited to see what else I will get to learn at the Stanford Earth Young Investigators Program as I have already learned so much in a couple of weeks.
At first, while I was very excited, I was curious about how we were going to be able to continue as interns virtually despite the COVID-19 pandemic, still ever-present. However, I can now say that being a part of the first-ever virtual SEYI internship program has been absolutely stunning, and I am eternally grateful to be a part of this ground-breaking (Paleontology Pun) cohort of intellectuals.