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Huy Bui

My days were numbered at Stanford...

posted August 10, 2017

My days were numbered at Stanford... Unlike the others, my departure is near. My final weeks were harsh to pass by: there was so much I had to do and so little time. Butterfly data collection has drawn to a conclusion with over 15,000 occurrences registered onto our whole database throughout the internship! That number was phenomenal. Not only did we, the interns, contributed to a prominent research conducted by the Geology department, we went above what was expected of us and wrapped up with a hefty number! My tacked-up fingers were finally recovering after the shortest hiatus from typing up phylogeny information and squinting my eyes for the caliper.

Scratch that, now it’s time for progress on my very own research…. On marine diversities and how susceptible they are to anthropogenic pollution! At first, my data were all mixed up and I had to rethink my route. Thankfully, I was able to get my ideas bunched up and explained it to Noel who then took the initiative to debunk my ideas and formed some of his own. We came to the conclusion that the Caribbean would not create any meaningful data as there would be a bias such that it is not populated enough compared to the Mediterranean—which did not have a better rap not a criminal record, a diversity record. Thus we were leaning towards a more populated location with more local fauna: Australia. The Australian reefs were our target for diversity and luckily we located a study around the location. The data collection hotspots were perfect for our research. At the end of the data collection, we inputted our data into R and ran the Spearman’s Correlation Test. The results? We found that only 3 classes had a notable significance; Mammalia, Cephalopoda and Hexanauplia which are mammals, squids and copepods respectively with a correlation constant of >.3 and a p-value of <.05 showing="" significance.="">

Just about with every research, I could not be unhappy with the results. These results were expected from the beginning due to a lag effect and the regions these classes frequent, pelagic. Plastic has been known to occur in the upper pelagic zones thus affecting mostly the fauna located there. Shortly, presentation day came. Before I knew it, my last day here at the Stanford internship finally approached. Prior to the presentation, Noel and the some of the Stanford Earth supervisors held a pot-luck in response to our last day. Now, I must present my poster and I did it with confidence. I knew what to say and said what I had to. Hopefully my presentation did not seem lackluster in any way to the audience. This research meant something to me as it is my first ever research and if I wanted to pursue a research career, I must put in effort. And before I knew it again, I walked out of Braun Hall with a smile. This internship was memorable in every way possible. I’d like to thank Noel and the rest of the faculty for having me here this summer! The internship will be something special to me in the near future and Stanford might be an option for me in the fall semester of 2018 or even further in my education.

Previously on my time here at Stanford...

posted July 25, 2017

Previously on my time here at Stanford, we, the interns, visited Capitola for a walk along the shore to spot fossils and analyzed the situation at the time. Eventually we landed at our last stop, the Marine research center—a bit further from Natural Bridges— where 2 skeletal exhibits of a grey and blue whale lay. Of course, being myself, I was quietly fascinated by the structure of a whale while astonished seeing what I saw on the history channel, first hand! Throughout my entire life, the only times I saw any marine creatures was through a computer screen. This came to a halt fast as we only took a glance — half an hour give or take — before we took off back to square one, Palo Alto.

A few days have gone by before we were launched back into Braun Hall to go through a handful of butterfly data and record their sizes. The entire week felt prolonged and even felt as if Summer is at its peak. I woke up from that mirage and stayed focused for the week. When we got back, Noel, our mentor, introduced us to what will soon be our own research. I was astounded by this as I always want to live in a scientist’s shoes for a day. My first though was to focus on climate change as it is something we and the millennia to come can witness and discuss. I turned to something more broad so I thought about doing marine biodiversity and its correlation to marine debris. This seemed meaningful as there are many researchers looking for data for Chordata, annelids, etc. My embark on the science world would be meaningful I thought to myself. Throughout the week, multiple presentations by graduate students and professors were conducted. Most appealed to me—though still overwhelmed by the sheer information— I persisted through and caught the main idea throughout every one of the presentations I witnessed at Stanford; perseverance is the key to success. No matter what college you go to, the amount of information digested will be the same; however, the delivery is night and day. While attending a prestigious institution may seem like a luxury, it may not appeal to the brightest of minds who are accustomed to the one-on-one attention for success. I thought of this as something to learn from as I have always thought going to the top colleges was the sole option for success, but going to an “average” UC may have its pros as I will still get the same degree but may have a preference in delivery. These speakers always ended with tips, most of this seemed like common sense to me, but I have never pondered on the route they took. By using my intuition and guts, my route would have the same success if my drive to learn is there. Though not asking any questions, like some of my fellow interns, I ponder these questions on my own and seek for an answer.

The past 2 weeks flew like a flock. Today, today was a new day. July 11th it was. My first overnight camping trip aside from a cabin camping trip during my elementary grade. My hopes were high especially with our belated arrival. Prior to reaching our destination at Pinnacles National Park, we took several stops along the Salinas Valley along a series of sediments deposited millions of years ago. There lay thousands of fossils of crustaceans; the second stop having the crabs whom were not in abundance compared to the shelled crustaceans. My fellow interns found several fossils, some were intricate as if the fossil was fairly decent. Some were dusted to oblivion and there were some that were actually just weatherings. Of course being a scientist is anticipating mistakes, these mistakes lay routes to success in my mind. Without mistakes, a person cannot be successful. That being said, after mistakenly interpreting many stray rocks formed by weathering, I have finally got the hang of looking at fossilized crustaceans.

Soon after our geology trip to the Salinas Valley, we’ve arrived at the campsite at around 4:00 PM. Being stoked about my first camping trip, I rushed to get my things and gathered around for a meeting before we headed off to set up our tents. The rest of the day went by fairly quick, until night struck at about 9:00 where we would go out to the middle of the campsite in order to do a fun activity. We had a white sheet and flashed blue light at it in order to lure moths, beetles , and other nocturnal critters. After a while, we thought our luck was awful until we finally baited a decently sized moth onto the sheet. We were in awe when we first spotted it, not knowing what the species is or how common it actually was. After a few searches, Noel found the species to be the Sphinx perelegans who inhabit North America from British Columbia to Baja in California. For me, it was actually one of the Lepidoptera I have seen that aren’t present in urban areas. Sadly, while the fun lasted, we packed up and went back to our tents to settle down for the night. Whilst walking back, we noticed various creatures such as a raccoon, a small mice, and a black widow. I expected all but the latter—a black widow seemed rare especially found under a log. While we had fun, we had to end the night. The following morning, we ate breakfast briefly then ventured on to begin the hike up to Pinnacles. Unfortunately for me, when we got 80-85% done, my legs cramped so my hike was basically over. Sadly, I could not make it up to the top but I had a nice view on the location I cramped up on which was oddly, satisfying for me. Before I knew it, the trip was over and I was on the way back home.

The following weeks were like the prior weeks— filled with data collection and presentations— which felt relaxing. Hearing all the speakers only broadened what I could become in the near future. My future career options have changed ever since the internship, never in years would I imagine considering earth sciences. My misconceptions and myopia on the studies have been cleared up. Having to pick up a certain rock and knowing how it got there and what its trip was like seemed like a phenomenon to me. The past 5-6 weeks have been a blast at the internship was a blast to say the least!

Hello readers, I'm Huy and this is my first blog...

posted July 03, 2017

Hello readers, I'm Huy and this is my first blog for the biodiversity section of the Stanford Earth internship! I'll just quickly skim over the first week
as it started out with the introduction to the other interns in which we quickly got to know each other through ice-breakers. Quickly after that, we got to
meet our mentor, Noel, who greeted us with a warm welcome and a quick overview of his goals and what we will be researching this summer. He arranged us in
groups of two so we could practice what seemed to be our daily routine for the next few weeks which was to measure the basal apical length of butterflies via
books and their body lengths. His goal as cited was to find if there was any correlation with animal size as years pass. Our first week passed by fast as we
continued onto our daily routine followed by a quick presentation on Thursday on groundwater. On Friday, we had a discussion on a paper written in the 1920s
about size and the evolutionary needs for an animal of great size written by J. B. S. Haldane. This paper discussed many factors and even developed a
mathematical equation involving volume and surface area to further back up their claim. This seemed interesting and fairly obvious after being told as a gazelle
cannot have large legs with its small body as it wouldn't be able to be as mobile. This feature is the same for other species as well. The first week gave me
exposure to what many researches start with; data collection.

The weekend passed and we were back on our feet again, this time we start by learning a simple computing language, "R". At first, I thought it would be
difficult but, to me, it seemed a lot easier than the stepping stones of Python for now. That day went by fast as Victor, my partner for the R tutorial,
quickly went by the instructions on the information sheet and attempted to test how the language worked. As a result, we found that it was simple and could
not take inaccurate commands which was disappointing. The beginning of the week was basically just Butterfly measurements until our field trip on Friday. We
were set to go to Capitola where we would go alongside the shore looking at shellbeds resulted from years of erosion and sea level changes. While going along
the shore, we spotted a dead starfish and some interesting vertebrae fossils. After that exploration period, we went up to a research facility to look at whale
bones compiled up outside the facility. This field trip gave me the sense the past can still be discovered.That's it for my first blog, hopefully you guys had
a good read!