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Ilinca Flacau

When I received my email of acceptance I was elated.

July 10, 2020

Hey! I’m Ilinca, and I’m a rising sophomore at Leland High School. When I received my email of acceptance I was elated. Even though we are not able to meet in person due to COVID-19, the Stanford Earth Young Investigators internship has already surpassed my expectations.

This year the focuses are body size and oxygen in the Ordovician, specifically during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE) and the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction (LOME). More about that later.

In the first week, we spent the vast majority of the time learning about biodiversity, evolution, and the Ordovician. We did this through a combination of PowerPoints (from Pedro), papers, and guest speakers. One of the papers we read (Oxygen and Body Size) was written by John Payne who came and talked to us about the content of the paper and the process of writing it. I thought it was pretty cool how many scientists of vastly different backgrounds come together to do research. I really like that about research compare to industry jobs; you get to work with people outside of your expertise and learn from then.

In the second week, we focused on R. Although I have some experience with Java, R was the first programming language I’ve used to create plots. By the end of the week I was able to create complex, colorful graphs that looked insanely complicated, but actually ended up having fairly simple code behind them.

This last (third) week, we got you partner assignments and chose our projects. My partners are Adarsh and Addy, who are both smart and chill people, and for our project, we’ve chosen to focus on mollusks during the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction. What’s really cool (but kind of a pain when researching my hypothesis) is that there is such little information on body size of mollusks during this period. It feels insanely cool doing original research, putting out new information that wasn’t there before.

I am beyond excited to really start the data analysis and to continue working on the project!