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Iris Wang

posted August 5, 2016

The 8 weeks have come and gone so quickly, and my experience at this internship has been unforgettable. The past few weeks my partner and I have been focusing on our research poster on ecospace influence on extinction threats in marine and terrestrial mammals. We discovered surprising correlations and results from our data, such as how more marine mammals are vulnerable as opposed to terrestrial. We finally printed our poster on Friday after 2 misprints (it took 2 hours-the printer printed weird colors over our texts and graphs) and we all presented our projects to the other interns, professors and other graduate students. It was exhilarating, getting to explain what I spent half of my summer working on and what I found to other people and I’m so excited for AGU- December feels so far away! I’m so excited to meet up with the other interns then and see where we all are 4 months from now.

We also got the opportunity to see what the other interns in the Environment and Geology options have been doing this past summer. Learning about soil research, listening to a rap about fungi and an interactive app really amazed me and I was really interested in all the projects they had been working on.

In the last few minutes when we were all together and dreading the end of the internship, we also presented Noel with his gifts! We got him a popcorn machine, popcorn and a cup (#NemaNoel). He was honestly so supportive and helpful throughout our struggles in R and helping out with our projects when we got off track. I’m gonna miss your baking Noel!

This internship taught me a lot and opened my eyes to real research and all the opportunities that are available to me. Through the guest speakers that explained their research and journey to where they are now, the experience of conducting our own project and making a poster, the opportunity to actually present our findings and meeting so many amazing fellow interns, I can safely say this was one of the best summers I ever had. I’ll never forget all the amazing people I met here. Thanks so much, Jenny Saltzman for organizing this program and making this the best it could’ve possibly been, to Jonathan Payne for hosting all of us and most of all to Noel Heim for his guidance and support. I can’t wait to see all of you guys in 4 months! (or maybe sooner if we have a reunion :))

Last week we went on a camping trip to Pinnacles National Park...

posted July 19, 2016

Last week we went on a camping trip to Pinnacles National Park, 2 hours away from Stanford. With no wifi and 25 cent showers, that trip was an amazing experience. The first day we stopped by the road and climbed up a mountain scattered with large rocks. We broke each rock with our hands/tools (they were suprisingly soft) and discovered fossils inside. The first mountain had bivalves (scallops) and the second had tiny crabs. Although only a mile away from each other, neither was found in the others area, due to faults and different land masses pushing and pulling.

We set up camp, cooked our own meals and bonded over our mutual fear of darkness. We also went on a 4 mile hike to look at different rock formations and trees (refrigerator tree). It was a remarkable experience that brought us all closer together and allowed us to experience the feeling of discovering different fossils and rocks.

We also recently started our research project! My partner and I are looking at different life modes (feeding, motility) and how it can predict or affect extinction rate. With data taken for the IUCN Red List and other databases, we are hoping to find a correlation between the life mode and extinction possibility. We are using R, the programming language, to make logistic regression plots and to seek similarities between marine and terrestrial mammals and compare the two. We are hoping to present at the AGU conference in December and will be working hard to make that possible!

A few weeks ago I walked into orientation...

posted June 28, 2016

A few weeks ago I walked into orientation at the Ruth Wattis Mitchell Earth Sciences Building, clueless to what was in store for me. These past two weeks have opened my eyes to the depth and extent of paleobiology and earth sciences and gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people with similar passions from all over the Bay Area.

We've been collecting data on various nematode species (from those that live in the dunes to those that live in antarctica) for Noel's research. We noted down the different length ratios, classification, habitats and living conditions each species has. Going through each scientific journal has been an amazing experience- seeing how real research is collected. To see live nematodes in action,we collected soil samples from the lake and behind GeoCorner to examine. Looking through microscopes, we discovered nematodes, mites and even fly larvae! Excitedly showing my friends what I found in my sample, looking at theirs and discussing the nematode's shape and movement was enjoyable.

Another part I really enjoyed was the introduction to R programming. Through my years, I've coded with C++ and Java and the opportunity to learn another language was exhilarating. I didn't expect an earth science internship to teach us coding but I learned it was the best language for data analysis and graphs. We played around with new methods and created graphs for nematode species and body sizes.

Our time here at GeoCorner has also been interspersed with various talks and presentations from graduate students and professors. They presented their projects- from marine microbiology to geophysics, I was astounded by the wide range of research they conducted and what their findings or studies entailed.

It showed me all the possibilities my future could contain, since I have no idea what I want to study as of right now. Stories of how what they thought they wanted to do wasn't really the right fit for them really stuck with me. This internship has changed my perspective on my future and I'm extremely excited for the next 6 weeks (especially to start the research project!).

Microscope image
Computer screen
R Programming