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Margot Bellon

posted August 3, 2016

This internship has been an incredible experience for me. Although it was not at all what I expected it to be, it gave me so much exposure to the professional world of science, exposure that I wouldn't have been able to acquire without it. Not only did the Wednesday seminars introduce us to many different fields of science, but also Shersingh's persistent advice to go see labs and meet more people helped a lot. Learning about these different people's careers, academic journeys, and personal interests informed me about the incredible flexibility there is to explore and study anything in the field of science. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with R and to have created a real scientific poster at my age because these skills will serve me as useful assets in college, where I hope to continue studying science.

I think that one of the greatest parts of this internship was my peers. Being around 25+ people my age with similar interests as me from different backgrounds enabled me to learn from them. Whether it was about computer science or ornithology, I appreciated all of my classmates for their unique interests and their driven mentalities. We all bonded nicely, which was an enjoyable thing in the midst of doing data collection and completing our research projects. I also really appreciated Noel's help and guidance all throughout the internship because I learned a lot from him, he aided us a lot during the research project, and he baked us delicious goods! The different field trips were really valuable as well because it made the science really interactive and interesting: learning about bivalves and brachiopods in the classroom translated nicely to seeing their fossils in Pinnacles!

Finally, I valued the poster sessions on the last day a lot because we were all very respectful of each other, and genuinely interested in what our peers had been working on all summer. When I gave my poster presentations, I appreciated the questions because it made me feel like the other interns were genuinely curious about what I had studied. Additionally, seeing how different the work the geology/environmental interns and farm interns had been doing was awesome. This allowed me to learn about a diverse range of specific research, as well as real world applications. I liked the farm excursion because we got to see the different methods of agriculture the farm interns practiced, like intercropping and cover cropping. Also, learning about details like sunflowers' rigid structure and sunlight signal reception, or squash's defense mechanisms, was very interesting. After having visited the workspaces of the other interns, I am inspired to come back next year and apply to a different sector in order to gain exposure to different science, research, and opportunities!

Having visited a microbiology lab and studied bacterial genome sizes for my research project ignited my new found interest for microbes! I hope to study them more throughout the year, but especially next summer because their correlation with the environment is fascinating, and also their divergence (between Achaea and bacteria), their distribution, and their structures are so complex, and there is much to study! Ultimately, there were so many layers of this internship, and I indulged in and enjoyed them all. Because of this internship, I now feel like a real scientist.

Five interns

The past three weeks in GeoCorner...

posted July 19, 2016

The past three weeks in GeoCorner have been very exciting for me, principally because of our research projects. After having brainstormed many interesting ideas and several broad questions, we found our pairs and have begun gathering data/analyzing results for our projects. I think it is useful to work in a pair in which the other person has similar interests as you, this way you can bounce off each other's ideas and ask more compelling questions. Without much prior knowledge about R, modeling our data with this program has been a challenge. However, working with it almost every day has made me more confident when using it, especially because coding is so ubiquitous these days. Ultimately, being able to research a topic that interests me and using R programming to model this data makes me feel like a scientist because it gives me a better impression of what more professional researchers undergo to arrive at scientific conclusions, and how they model these conclusions (AGU poster).

Aside from our research projects, I have really enjoyed the guest speakers that come speak to us. Just Monday afternoon, we had a geologist come speak to us in GeoCorner. He spoke about his experience working abroad in China, using rock science in the applicable study of natural gas extraction, and working for Chevron. The fact that he worked for one of the largest oil companies as an Earth scientist was interesting to me because it demonstrated how applicable Earth science can be to the practical world. Also, because I have watched several documentaries on Chevron's unethical practices in countries like Ecuador in which oil is polluting the native peoples' environments, I was interested in hearing his perspective on Chevron's environmental approach to extracting oil. (He feels Chevron has ethical practices and that Texaco was the prime culprit in this circumstance.) Also, even though I do not have a particular interest in physics, I have been really engrossed in the geophysicist presentations on Wednesdays because they demonstrate the diverse range of study that can arise from an interest in geology/environmental science. I have never had exposure to a geophysicist's work, so their presentations are interesting to me for this reason as well.


Finally, the camping trip was both animated and informative for me. I enjoyed collecting fossils on the first day because I witnessed their prevalence in the rocks, I learned about how geologists interpret fossil presence and topographic formation, and I learned about the difference between calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate in terms of fossil preservation. Bonding with my peers late at night was also a fun experience because we all got to know each other better, which is nice considering we all have very similar academics interests but all come from very diverse backgrounds.

My favorite part of the camping trip was, however, the hike because I love hiking in general, and this gave me an entirely different perspective when doing so because I was focusing on the rocks, the Pinnacles formation around me, the signs of Volcanic activity, the signs of cattle grazing and water erosion, and the topographic signs of the San Andreas fault instead of simply focusing on “a pretty view.” Being surrounded by so many other scientists really enhanced this hike and camping trip as well because everyone had a very positive attitude, and someone was always willing to answer any questions I had about the real-world science we were witnessing at our feet.

Two interns

I jumped into this internship...

posted June 28, 2016

I jumped into this internship with an excited, yet unknowing mindset. I clearly thought environmental science and evolution were interesting before the program began, but the first two weeks here have vividly shown me the practical applications of the earth science and biology I learn in school in the real environment.

On a daily basis in GeoCorner, we have been collecting various nematode and parasitic data out of books that comprise different scientists' observations about nematode/parasite sizes, locations, hosts, species names, etc. This has been interesting because we not only get to learn more about nematodes and parasites from the pure data we are collecting, but we also get to modernize old data and contribute to Noel's research. I have also enjoyed doing data collection because it has prompted me to ask numerous questions about nematodes, about Noel's research on the evolution of species' sizes and how this relates to other scientific discoveries, and about potential reasons why nematodes are the sizes they are in these particular locations.

Another aspect of this internship that I greatly enjoy, yet was not expecting before the program began is the guest speakers we get to listen to. Whether they be professors or graduate students, hearing different perspectives about science and the journey to become a scientist has been really beneficial for me. It has taught me that it is perfectly acceptable to not know one's passion at 17 years old and that the more open-minded one is, the greater the likelihood they will find their passion. Additionally, it is purely interesting to hear about the totally diverse range of research different professors and grad students are performing. This range of studies enforces the idea that there is no end to the scope of science one can pursue.

Finally, the field trip to Capitola we took on Monday was one of the highlights of this internship so far because it gave me the opportunity to simply learn about fossils and sedimentation in a manner that I have never been exposed to before. In environmental science class, I briefly studied how fossils arise in coastal cliffs over millions of years through sedimentation and tectonic plate shifting. However, I had never seen this real-world, concentrated fossil collection in rock before, and seeing it in person enabled me to ask Noel, Jenny and Shersingh questions about my confusion or simply about the things I was curious about. This field trip, and ultimately this entire internship, has made me feel like a scientist because it has encouraged me to inquire about science independently, because it has provided me with the resources to do so, and because it has exposed me to a world of scientists and scientific research (through lab meetings, guest speakers, and the National Geographic meeting) that I would never have had access to without Stanford Earth!