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Benjamin Ruiz

Last week...

posted July 20, 2016

Last week, the interns of the biodiversity program got to go to a park called Pinnacles National Park, where we stayed overnight. The pros of this field trip were that we got to go out and explore the park (and go on an adventure in search of a signal late at night). The food that we ate there was great, and I got to experiment with making my own quesadilla. The only con was that there were showers at the park, but I forgot to bring a towel, so I was unable to shower. In the end, I washed my hair in the bathroom sinks (which went surprisingly well). We also hiked up a mountain, and the hike showed me just how out of shape I am since I have not been running. However, I still ended up being one of the first to get to the top, and I ended going further up than originally planned and managed to get a cell phone signal (although it was only sufficient to send three texts). Back at the campsite, we saw a lot of deer and raccoons, and while playing truth or dare at night, a raccoon fell out of the branches above us and behind the girls, which scared them and sent them running. That ended our night time games, and most people went to sleep.

Also, this week, one of my fellow interns came up with one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve heard from him, and that idea was to bring milk and cereal to Stanford so we could eat breakfast at Stanford since we don’t have a chance to eat breakfast before coming to Stanford because we have to leave very early to make it to Stanford on time.

On to the more academic side of this internship. We have come up with research topics and done research into our topics. We have all written abstracts that we submitted to the AGU, and will continue our research. This is a pleasant change from the usual data collection, although using R still proves quite challenging. However, using R is much easier now than when I first had to use it all. I’m really enjoying everything about the internship, and it makes me sad to see the days count down until the internship ends.

The internship has been interesting so far...

posted June 29, 2016

The internship has been interesting so far. I had expected that all we would be doing was to collect data on some animals all day. I was sort of right in expecting this, because much of our time is spent collecting data on nematodes and putting it all on an excel sheet. However, what I did not expect was to be able to hear from graduates and professors about their research and the fields of science that they studied in. Before hearing what these people had to say about their work, I had not realized that researchers don't study broad subjects in the field they focus on, but rather they focus their research on a small piece that will help them see the bigger picture. Listening to the different research they do is fascinating. The guests seem so happy to talk about their research, and I hope that I too will be happy about my work in the future and will happily discuss and present my work just like the professors and graduates do.

On Monday, we went on a trip to a beach in Capitola where we got to see many clam shells and a few whale bones here and there if we looked hard enough. I also found a dead fish that looked like a sculpin. After wandering around the beach look for animal remains and eating lunch, we went to look at an entire blue whale skeleton. I knew that blue whales are huge, but I had never seen a whale up close. I mean a blue whale skeleton up close. Its head alone was probably longer than I am tall. I also noticed two random bones hanging that were not connected to the rest of the bones by other bones. I thought maybe that the people that were putting the skeleton back together lost some bones, but it turned out that those two tiny bones are what remains of the whales hips. Whales used to walk on land, and so had 4 legs, but as they evolved to life in the ocean, they lost their hind legs and grew flippers instead of front feet. I find it hard to imagine that such a large animal, other than dinosaurs, used to roam on land. We have another field trip coming up this Thursday, and we will be going on a boat out in the San Francisco Bay. I am really looking forward to it.