The Final Weeks
posted July 31, 2015
Since I last posted, we have gone on a overnight camping trip to the Pinnacles. On the way there, we stopped by the side of the road to find fossils. Like last year I found some bivalves and crabs, But I also found brachiopods! Another activity I enjoyed was the night hike. Although it was not very long, we saw many interesting things including nesting turkey vultures, raccoons, a rabbit, and deer. The raccoons caused a few problems, however, because they stole Cindy’s backpack. We ended up finding all the junk the raccoons had taken over the years, including another backpack and a mess kit. The second day we took a 5 mile hike. On the way up, we looked at different geological features. I really enjoyed this part a lot more than I did last year because I found everything a lot easier to understand. On the way back down one group decided see how quickly we could get back. It took us 2 hours to go up, but only 30 minutes to get back down!
Once we got back to Stanford we tried to identify the fossils we found (only at the genus level). I realized that it requires a fair amount of guess work and that you're never sure if you’ve identified the fossil correctly.
Finally, Charin and I submitted our abstract, and mostly finished our poster. I enjoyed the research we did and thought our findings were interesting. We observed that the end-cretaceous and the end-Permian mass extinctions were less selective when it came to ecology (meaning that no life mode was disproportionately affected by the extinction event.)
I can’t wait to present our poster at AGU, and to see again all the wonderful friends I’ve made during the internship this year. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity, and I’m glad that I came back for a second year because I learned so much more.
Starting Research projects and the Hopkins marine center
posted July 15, 2015
Since my last blog post, we have finally started our research projects. I am working with Charin Park, and we have decided to look at mass extinctions’ effect on ecological diversity. We work very well together, and have made progress on our project. After writing an abstract, we started working with the Marine organism data to create a plot of the number of different life modes present over time, and to see how many species have gone extinct in each life mode for each of the mass extinctions (end Cretaceous, end Triassic, end Permian, Devonian, and end Ordovician). We then found the percentage of the species that went extinct in each life mode during these mass extinctions, and we plan on explaining why some life modes were affected more than others. Additionally, I enjoy using R much more this year, because I remember a decent amount from last year.
On July 8th we went on a field trip to the Hopkins Marine Station to look at tide pools and go on lab tours. Since the tide pools are protected no one is allowed to take the shells or damage any of the wildlife. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by all the different life forms we saw. In addition to seeing anemones, snails and crabs (which I expected), we saw chitons, sea stars, a yellow nudibranch, and sea urchins. We also saw some marine mammals such as seals and a sea otter. Also, during one of the lab tours we learned about sea stars’ radial symmetry, and their larvae’s bilateral symmetry.
I'm very excited to continue to work on the research projects, and I can’t wait to see the results.
Originally, I thought that since I had participated in this internship last year...
posted July 02, 2015
Originally, I thought that, since I had participated in this internship last year, it might get a little repetitive. I couldn’t have been more wrong. These first two weeks have been so incredibly interesting. We are studying prokaryotes, and have started data collection. This year the data collection is more difficult because the information we need is often hidden inside pages of text that we don’t necessarily understand. However, it gets easier with every chapter we go through.
Additionally, we have read some very interesting articles. My favorite by far was an article about the sixth mass extinction. Not only was it easy to read, but it really showed the critical situation concerning species extinction due to human activity.
Finally, the highlight of this first couple of weeks was the field trip to the beach to look for fossils. I really enjoyed getting to see the different layers of fossil beds, as well as proof of geologic movement in the cliffs. Furthermore, we saw a lot more whale fossils then last time, and a really interesting beetle.
I’m excited for the rest of this internship because if it’s anything like the beginning, then it will be amazing.
The End of the Program
posted August 08, 2014
The program is now over, and now all we have to do is wait for AGU.
On the last day of the program we were able to show all our work to the other interns. I was really excited because, frankly, I didn’t know what the others were working on. Everyone’s presentations were interesting, and everyone explained his or her research in easily understandable terms. When it was time for the History of Life interns to present our posters, I was very nervous. However, everyone was very nice and we were given good feedback from people in the lab.
My favorite part of the internship was the research projects. I enjoyed working with Lauren and Lesly Ann. We were able to answer a question that no one had answered before. Also I enjoyed working on “R” and I feel like I learned a lot. We found that ostracod body size decreases over time, and that time effects the body size evolution, but geographic distance does not.
Our final field trip was to the Bean Hollow tide pools. I loved being able to see all the creatures in their natural habitat. Melody would catch crabs so we all had the chance to hold a crab.
Field Trips and Research Projects
posted July 20, 2014
Since the last time I wrote a blog post, many awesome things have happened. First, we went on a field trip to the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkley. There we sorted fossils in groups (my group sorted sand dollars), and got a tour of their fossil collections. They have a mind-blowing amount of fossils. We saw saber tooth cat skulls, birds that looked enormously like tiny dinosaurs, and an alligator. After, we walked to the football stadium and saw evidence of the Hayward Fault.
Then last week, we went camping in Pinnacles National Park. We went on a five mile hike where we saw rock formations, and by the time we got back, everyone was exhausted. We also went looking for brachiopod, bivalve and crab fossils on the side of the road, and we found many cool specimens.
Finally, we also started our research projects this week. I am working with Lauren and Lesly Ann. We are comparing the mean size of ostracods from different places (10 degree squares on the globe) and different geologic time. We had some trouble with R at first because we didn’t know how to do what we were trying to do, but then it all worked out because Noel helped.
The first two weeks ...
posted June 30, 2014
The first two weeks of the History of Life internship were very interesting, and less intimidating than I expected. We started by introducing ourselves (of course) but before we knew it, we were already learning new things. We have participated in many fun activities including making a comparison of the geologic timescale, and making a presentation on crustaceans. We had to present both of these in groups of four. I’m very nervous when it comes to presenting but I think that by the end of the program I will have gained some valuable skills.
Some of the other activities we do include looking at different sedimentary rocks or fossils and trying to see if we can find out more about them on our own. I really like this because it is a direct hands-on approach and helps me learn more. Additionally, we are continuously measuring ostracods and putting the data we find in an Excel spreadsheet so that we can analyze it later. In order to do that we had to learn about a program called “R.”This was really confusing at first, but I think now everyone understands it.
Everyone here is so incredibly nice, interesting and welcoming. Although I was very nervous the first few days, now I realize that everyone is very motivated and interested in science. I can’t wait to learn more.