I spent the second half of the internship mostly working on a research project with my new group mates.
August 10, 2020
I spent the second half of the internship mostly working on a research project with my new group mates. We began by using the R skills we had picked up the previous week to play around with the SEYI data set, thinking of which relationships we wanted to test for our project. Eventually, we settled on atmospheric oxygen content and body size of both originating genera and existing genera. Next, we used R to create rough drafts of graphs that would display relationships in the data. We ran into trouble in obtaining a second y-axis on our graphs in order to display oxygen and body size over time. Pedro came in and helped us out not only with the second y-axis, but also with adding a legend and making the graphs look aesthetically pleasing. After, we ran our correlation tests and found some extremely weird results: body size of all genera and oxygen had a negative correlation, while the body size of only new genera and oxygen had a positive correlation. How could body size be increasing and decreasing at the same time? We spent days looking for papers on body size and oxygen that would answer our question, but we couldn’t yet find a great solution. Shifting our focus, we started prepping the layout of a poster which we would hopefully get to present at the American Geophysical Union conference.
The second half of the program wasn’t completely focused on the project as we had professor Noel Heim answer questions about a few of his research papers. We also played a few entertaining games brainstormed by Michael, one of which was a custom Kahoot. Also, if you get the chance, make sure ask Pedro about Komodo dragons.
The presentation date arrived quickly, and after discussing our unusual results with Pedro, we finally came up with the solution: body size is known to be positively correlated with oxygen, which meant that the negative correlation we saw must have been indirect or due to some other factor. The next day, my team gave a stellar presentation in front of an audience of Stanford faculty and others. Overall, I had a great experience and will miss all of the interns, especially Spencer and Emma, my amazing group mates. Eventually we’ll be presenting our poster at the AGU and I look forward to seeing everyone again!
I was overjoyed when I found out that I would be participating in real university level research
July 10, 2020
I was overjoyed when I found out that I would be participating in real university level research, since I’ve wanted to be a researcher my whole life. So far, I certainly have not been disappointed, even though the program transitioned online. We spent the first week learning background information on the Ordovician period, which we will be studying. In particular, we learned our work would deal with the body size trends of genera during the period. Body size is currently understudied and a more important biological factor than many realize. A few guest speakers involved in paleobiology also came in to talk to us about their work and how they got to where they were, which was interesting. I also met the other interns and Pedro, who would be conducting the program. Pedro is extremely nice and very passionate about his work; he’s just the best! Michael, a graduate student, assists Pedro with running the day to day activities and he’s a homie. The second week, we focused on learning the code language R. I had very little coding experience coming into SEYI, but luckily the other interns and Pedro helped me pick up the language quickly. Now, at the end of the third week, we have just begun our research projects. I’m specifically looking at the body size trends of cephalopod genera originating in the Ordovician. My group of three as a whole is examining molluscs, with each member responsible for a different class. The internship so far has been an exciting whirlwind, even through Zoom. The best part, though, has to be finding out that there are people out there who are just as interested in science as I am. Some of the other interns truly feel that pull to discover new things about our world, and working with people like that is the best opportunity I could ask for. Looking forward to more science!