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Alex Tenorio

Its hard to imagine that it has already been a month...

posted August 08, 2015

I can't believe how fast these past few weeks have gone by and that we have already come to the end of our time as interns for the History of Life Program. The experiences, knowledge, techniques and skills I have made this summer are ones that I would have never thought to have had when I first began this internship. After so many weeks of eating lunch at Old Union together playing cards and having our great overnight trip to Pinnacles we have bonded so well as an internship group. I have made so many new friends from whom I have learned invaluable skills about earth sciences and my next two years of high school thanks to their experience.

One of my favorite parts of this internship was having the opportunity to complete a research project which we had to complete with a partner and present to our entire group of interns, graduates, undergraduates, and professors. Along with my partner Cindy, we designed our research project to trace the correlation between metabolic rate and ecospace through geologic time. This was no easy task. It required both of our efforts to reach out and attempt programming with R and do a ton of background research on the subject which we both had very little previous knowledge of. However, after many hours of tedious programming and assembling, and thousands of questions asked to Noel, we were able to complete our project it and present it. This was such a gratifying feeling as both my partner and I got to see our work pay off and learn so much more than either of us anticipated when we first began.

It was such an amazing experience to have been able to take part in the Stanford History of Life Internship and I cannot thank Jenny and Noel enough for all they have done to make this experience possible!

Noah and Alex


Its hard to imagine that it has already been a month...

posted July 15, 2015

It's hard to imagine that it has already been a month since I first began this internship; these past few weeks have flown by since my last blog post. In that time we’ve had several big things occur. Just last week we finished the majority of our data collection project as an internship group! It seemed like it would never come to an end (in a positive way), but after cataloguing thousands of prokaryotic genera and beginning to physically measure the size dimensions of precambrian and ediacaran fossil pictures, Dr. Heim told us that we were practically finished with data collection.

Now our main focus has turned to completing our research projects. At first I was very nervous to start because most (if not all) of what I knew about earth sciences I had just learned this summer with the help of Dr. Heim and so I thought I would have particular trouble with coming up with a proposal and completing my project. However, after several talks with Dr. Heim, I was able to limit down my ideas and finally become more excited than nervous about this project. With the help of my partner Cindy, we proposed that we research how metabolic rate and ecology relate to one another in affecting the success of originating marine organisms, i.e. how long they lasted in the fossil record. Is there any direct correlation between the metabolic rate and ecology of a species? Is there a prime ecospace and metabolic rate for an organism to have that gives it the best chance of survival (when looking at a phyla)? These are what questions we are trying to answer and we are both very excited about going about this idea...but then there is R.

R is the language we were introduced to and that Dr. Heim has been instructing us on since the earlier days of the internship, however despite efforts I have found it hard for much of the language to stick in my mind. For this reason, when we began analysing our data to draw conclusions saying that I was not eager to use R might be more than just an understatement. R has been the main struggle for my partner and I to face as we are tasked with using it to utilize this mass amount of data that we have for our project. We are still in the very early stages of analysis due to this, but thanks to many visits from Dr. Heim and the help of fellow interns we have been able to at least code and form the basis of our research. I know that for us to successfully complete this project we will have to take on R and adapt to its usage.

Although it is a struggle to work with R, we have great incentive to put our full efforts into creating a project. Dr. Heim has been extremely helpful and patient in helping us form a project and nothing less than great in teaching us what we need to know to complete it. As well, the excitement of having the opportunity to travel to AGU with my fellow interns and present our own research project at the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world in front of roughly 24,000 people. Based off what the interns in our program who have been a part of the History of Life program before have said, AGU seems like an amazing and cool experience!

After a month of working in Geo-Corner, I am only all the more eager to continue working and see what my interns and I will have accomplished by the end of our time in the History of Life Program! Oh and I am also siked to be going on our camping trip next week!

One Giant Leap for Prokaryotic Kind

posted July 04, 2015

It has already been two weeks since I first stepped foot into the area of the Stanford quad known as Geo-Corner and time seems to be flying by. Beginning this internship was a mixture of excitement and uneasiness as I knew little of what to expect and who I would be working with. Since I was little, I always had the idea that I wanted to be a scientist, so on the first day of orientation when Dr. Saltzman told us we would be working with Dr. Heim as scientists and not just lab-hands, I knew I was instantly drawn in. However, it would be wrong to say that she did not warn of us of the long and sometimes tedious work we would be doing and that we may come to realize that maybe being a scientist isn't our thing, but nonetheless I was eager to start.

The first day we got to see and meet who we would be working with and what type of research would accompany our summer. When I first learned we would be collecting data on prokaryotes and inputting thousands of data sets into excel...excited wasn’t necessarily the first word which came to mind. However, Dr. Heim’s explanation of the entire program balanced out those thoughts of “oh-no” and instead turned my hesitation into curiosity as to what we would be learning from doing this data and how we would be making our own contributions to science. We then ended the day with a tour of the Stanford campus.

The next week was a bit of a overflow of data as I had really no real foundation for geology and earth studies. In my first week of early morning activities I felt as though I had learned more about geology than I had ever known in my years of school. Dr. Heim was very thorough and made it possible to understand the material and feel as though I was up to pace and then slowly I began to understand the ways of the program and data collecting. In about the first week it seemed like everyone was in a steady groove and connecting well with one another as we formed a fun environment and quickly got to know one another by playing card games and eating lunch together.

Last Friday we took a trip to Pomponio and New Brighton State Beaches. There we got to see actual fossils and learn how to identify shell beds and estimate around how long ago the fossils were formed. Rocks like this one were scattered around the beach filled with fossils of clams and shells from other organisms and it was so cool to see them all and how interesting they were. At the end of my second week I am only all the more eager to continue working and see where the internship takes me and the rest of my group!

Alex holding a rock on the beach