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Arash Shabany

In the final weeks of my internship here at Stanford...

posted August 11, 2017

In the final weeks of my internship here at Stanford, we finished measuring butterflies, and by the time we had finished, we had measure about 2000 butterflies with m partner, David, and as a group had measure about 17,000 species, I believe. In addition, we finished our projects and had our poster session on the last day which went very well.

We analyzed the graphs we had created in R and found some quite interesting results. Overall, it was difficult to find a definitive trend for many of the different life modes, mainly because some of the life modes were so diverse within the life mode, such as the feeding life mode of predatory. However, some life modes, such as the feeding life mode of grazing showed a very small trend that inclined towards the fact that more oxygen results in slightly larger animal biovolume. Overall however, the majority of the life modes had no trend.

One of the best experiences of this internship so far was our canoeing field trip off of the port of Redwood City. On this field trip, we spent the majority of the time doing different experiments out on our canoes. Although that in and of it itself was not that interesting to me, since it was fairly elementary science, I loved the chance I had to get out on the water and just canoe and have fun. One thing that interested me a lot was when they told us we could use the mud in the water as a mud mask, which I took part in whole heartedly, as the picture depicts below. Another amazing part of the trip was spending time with the fluffy dog Aspen.

Since I will only be a Junior next year, I’m hoping that I will be able to get the chance to take part in this internship next year. I had an amazing time making new friends and learning a lot this summer and would love to have the chance to do that again next summer.

My last few weeks in this lab...

posted July 26, 2017

My last few weeks in this lab have mainly included working on data collection with my partner, David Shih, and we have, until now, measured exactly 1806 species of different butterflies. In addition, we have started work on our projects and my partner and I will be working on the effect of oxygen levels in the atmosphere on the biomass of animals categorized by life modes, which takes into account different characteristics of animals, one being mobility levels.

We will be analyzing the data given to us by our mentor and from the many available online databases in the program R by creating graphs that plot mean body size based on life mode versus time. Then, we will compare the plots that we created to the already present graphs of oxygen level versus time. We will take a look at the rise and fall of the oxygen levels to see whether or not we can find a trend that relates oxygen levels in the atmosphere to the biomass of animals categorized by their life modes.

One of the best experiences of this internship so far has been our trip to Pinnacles National Park. On this field trip, we spent the majority of the first day looking at fossils, which included a bunch of really good crab and shell fossils. One thing that interested me a lot was that some rocks had fossils inside of them, but others had impressions of fossils inside of them, and the fossil itself had fallen out or had been destroyed. I took quite a few of those rocks back home with me. The rest of the day involved a fun game of Marco Polo in the Pinnacles campground and eating delicious fajitas for dinner.

That night, we witnessed many raccoons, and when we set up a black light, we caught one gigantic moth that was really interesting to look at. The next day, we took a geology hike that led us to a lookout over the valley. On the way, we learned a lot about the unique formations of rocks in the park, one of the most famous formations in the world.

As an avid rock climber, it was awesome for me to get to take a look at the famed Pinnacles formations for the first time and imagine how fun it would be for me to be able to boulder on them someday. All in all, the field trip was definitely one of the best highlights of my summer as a Stanford high school intern.

I’m hoping that I will be able to find an interesting conclusion in my project with my partner in these coming few weeks. I also hope that the data collection that we will be concluding soon will come of use to our mentor and his colleagues in their future research, along with the conclusion of our project that could also help them in future research to answer questions they and other scientists like them have. In conclusion, I simply hope to just have a great last few weeks at this internship and come away having learned many interesting new things.

One of the first impressions of this new lab...

posted July 10, 2017

One of the first impressions of this new lab that I've had is that I expected to work in a white lab coat and to use microscopes and other cool scientific instruments, but instead I experienced that all labs are not the normal white lab coat labs. In addition, labs that are not can be just as interesting as those
that are.

I have especially been enlightened in the field of entomology with the two lectures that graduate student Sandra gave to the other interns and I. I learned that I have a special interest in this field, even though many of the insects we discussed were quite disgusting. All in all, that new experience led me to know more about what type of work I would like to go into in college and in the work place.

My days in the lab have been filled with measuring butterflies' basal apical lengths and body lengths, seeing as that my mentor's big question is understanding how body size and other ecological effects have had on evolutionary patterns for animals as a whole. This summer, as an intern, I will be focusing on just butterflies, and possibly moths, in relation to this big question, finding data to help solve this question.

I am a scientist because I am measuring and recording hundreds and hundreds of pieces of data in relation to the body size of butterflies. I understand the complex nature of earth a little better because I understand the many differences between the different regions of the world, the vast varieties of species that take up this world, and so much more.

As to the campus and the experience as a whole, setting aside the scientific and work parts, the friendships and acquaintances I have made truly mean a lot to me. As a group with my new friends, we spend a lot of time near (and in) the fountain by the Mitchell Earth Science Building during lunch, and have had a lot of fun doing so.

A recent field trip that was very interesting was our field trip to Capitola and the UCSC marine biology lab. Here, I witnessed so many cool fossils first hand and was able to deeply examine them and understand what type of animal they came from and what part of the body they came from as well. In addition, the gigantic blue whale skeleton I saw at the marine biology lab was truly breathtaking and interesting to see all the bones and imagine what it would really look like in that close.

I have come to realize that research is much more than just sitting behind a microscope and writing down data. It involves a significant amount of analysis and other types of data collection as well. I am not sure what exactly I would like to do my poster on yet, but as I was vastly intrigued by the insects, I would like to do my poster relating to insects and ecological effects on their evolution patterns.

Finally, the one main issue I would like to know more about is the gap in fossil records for insects that exists for about 20 million years or so and the fossils before and after this gap. All in all, I am having a great time at this internship and hope to learn so much more this summer.