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Andrew Low

experience in the sciences

posted Aug 13, 2013

Over the past few weeks, we have worked hard to complete our graphs and other research in order to finish our project posters. In the process, we came to some interesting conclusions. One of the most significant was the fact that in general, organisms correlated the most with CO2, a proxy for temperature. This lends support to the idea that Bergmann's rule is the dominant factor that influences body size in echinoderms. We also discovered that oxygen usually proved to be the second strongest influence on body size. Also, we found that there was great variation in the factors that affected the various classes within the phylum Echinodermata. For instance, echinoids and crinoids correlated strongly with separate factors. One of the more exciting events was when we finally got to print our posters. It was satisfying to see all our efforts finally take shape in that poster.

Aside from project work, we have also tried to finish measuring all the fossils in the remaining ostracod volumes. However, once we finished measuring our respective volumes, we had more time for entertaining activities. (Measuring ostracods was fun too). We play football and mafia more often, and the general day to day pace of the internship has become more relaxed.

Looking back, this internship has been a great way to gain more experience in the sciences. It exposed me to the wide variety of fields within environmental science, and also allowed me to perform real scientific research. It also allowed me to meet new people and have fun during the summer. Overall, this internship has made my summer a thoroughly enjoyable and I would definitely do it again. Thanks to Nole, Jenny, and everyone else who made this experience possible!

discovered interesting trends that we didn't set out to find

posted Jul 31, 2013

These past few weeks have been very interesting, to say the least. They certainly have been more exciting than the first few weeks; although the first weeks were very fun too, in their own way. Daily football games and magic tricks help to break the routine.

We have been measuring ostracods for pretty much the entire duration of this internship. It can get pretty monotonous at times, especially when the fossils all look alike. However, we were able to start our own projects a couple weeks ago, which provided a welcome change in routine. Now, we all spend several hours each day working on our individual projects. It's interesting to see how the effort we put into measuring all the fossils paid off by providing us with data to use for projects.

Working on projects takes a lot of concentration and effort, but it's really interesting too. We had to learn a programming language called R in order to create the graphs and do the calculations needed to support our experiment. We also got a ton of help from Noel and Jon; they gave us really great advice on what to do next and how to do it. As we are wrapping up our project, we are starting to work on the poster that will (hopefully) clearly explain what we did this summer.

Our original project's focus was to determine how various factors that influence echinoderm body size affect each other, and to also possibly discover new factors that influence body size. However, in our search to find the answers to our question, we discovered interesting trends that we didn't set out to find. Despite the dead-ends we frequently ran into, we were eventually able to answer all our questions and form a coherent conclusion. One of the best things about this whole experience is the knowledge that you are the first to discover whatever you discover; no one has ever created the graphs you create or observed the trends that you see.

I also enjoyed the field trips to the art museum, Hayward Fault, and the dry creek bed. The art-museum tour was surprisingly interesting because the docent could explain the history and the thought that went into each work. The best part of the Hayward Fault tour was visiting Memorial Stadium, and also learning how humans had engineered the building to stay upright even though the fault ran right through it. At the creek bed, we learned about the geologic processes that had shaped the creek, and ate blackberries that probably weren't poisonous, which was fun.

So far, this internship has been really fun, and I hope our final project will turn out well!


posted Jul 11, 2013

Over the past 3 weeks, I have learned how to do several different tasks. First, I learned how to use calipers to accurately measure the size of various Echinoderm and Ostracod fossils. I measured both the oral-aboral length and the right left diameter in each fossil, when possible. I also attended several geospatial workshops, in which I learned how to use the mapping software ArcGIS. Later, our professor, Noel Heim, taught us how to use R, a programming platform, to manipulate large amounts of data to analyze it and to create graphs. Recently, we took a field trip to Capitola to see actual fossils in the rock, and also to explore the tide pools. Both activities were fun, although I liked the tide pools better.