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Purnima Seshadri

Ostracod body size trends

posted Aug 13, 2013

This internship has really been an amazing learning experience. I used to think that paleontology and paleobiology involved fossil hunting and dealt mostly with dinosaurs. First and foremost, this internship made me realize that these fields of science consist of a huge variety of different studies and research. In the beginning of this internship, we collected data for echinoderms and ostracods. Throughout the weeks, we would read different articles pertaining to our research, and it did help us understand the different rules and climate changes better. Learning from the other researchers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays were equally as interesting.

Cantor Art Museum

We went on field trips during the last weeks at Stanford. We went to the Cantor Art Museum and looked at modern art, and got to scrutinize the artist’s works. It was interesting to see such a variety of art from various cultures. We saw Native American art, Greek art, Renaissance art, and modern art. This art museum had so much to see that one visit just isn’t enough. I hope to visit the museum again to spend more time browsing around and getting to know more. We also went on a creek walk. We ate burritos from the Treehouse, and then went walked through the dried out creek for a couple hours. We learned about the different rocks and the formation of the creek.


During the last few weeks of the internship, we worked on our individual projects with full concentration. The project my group and I worked on was, “Ostracod body size trends does not follow either Bergmann’s rule or Cope’s rule during periods of constant temperature increase”. After hard work and constant proofreading, we finished the poster and awaited it to be printed. For a while, the poster refused to come out of the printer. After ages of waiting and constant printing, the poster finally came out of the printer. My group and I had to present our poster on Friday instead of Wednesday because one of our group members had to leave early. Presenting the poster was fun, because we got to teach our peers and the other scientists about the never-before-seen research we did.

In total, I really enjoyed this internship. I found the research we did for the projects interesting, and just seeing how scientists really work, opened my eyes to a whole new world. Scientists don’t just do field work- they have to order and sift through the data collected. We did that for the beginning of the internship, and it really gave me time to bond with my iPod. The data collection may not be interesting, but it is necessary and it is a prelude to the actual research. Without the data collection we did, my group and I would have had a difficult time finding data for our project. I am truly grateful to Jenny for giving me this opportunity, and can’t wait till December to present my poster in AGU!

our individual projects

posted July 26, 2013

I really have been enjoying my time at the History of Life Internship. For the first couple of weeks, we only did data collection from books, but recently we have been working on our individual projects. I am in a group with two other people. Our individual project is the following: The effect of Cope’s Rule and Bergmann’s Rule on ostracods, during periods of constant high temperature. We use the data we have collected, and we use the program R. This is my first time programming, but so far R has not been too hard to use. Listening to the lab meetings every Tuesday has been interesting as well. It’s fun to learn about the different projects that are being researched in the same building we work in.

The lectures on Wednesday are interesting as well, because they teach so much about the different fields in earth science. Yesterday we went to Berkeley for a field trip. We got to work with and see different fossils. Some neat fossils I saw were a well preserved wooly mammoth and a saber tooth tiger.

Cal stadium

Data Collection and Beach Trip

posted July 06, 2013

The History of Life internship really is interesting. Now we are doing data collection, which is finding different body sizes of echinoderms. We have already finished Part S and Part T, including the quality checks. We have proceeded onto measuring ostracods, and I have already finished one of the volumes. Noel also told us that we will be able to start our individual projects soon, which I am super excited to get started on!

On Wednesdays, we listen to different people who have careers in earth sciences. It’s interesting to hear about the myriads of careers in this field. I am always eager to hear what they have to say about these cool careers.

Also, on Tuesday, we went on a field trip to two beaches. In the first beach we studied fossils and the ages of the rock and the characteristics of the rocks. In the other beach, we looked at tide pools and got to notice the different living creatures in them. There were mollusks, sea snails, hermit crabs, sea urchins, sea anemones, and different types of seaweed.

These pictures show some of the rocks we saw that had different animal fossils in it.
Sea anemone in the small pool of water
The below picture shows a sea anemone in the small pool of water. It was so fun to see the different life forms in the tide pools, as well as study the different fossils and how they were in the rocks (like in the shell beds). We also saw small insects that resembled the trilobites.

Turns out that these insects were the closest living relative of the trilobites. The field trip was extremely fun, and I cannot wait until the next one! My experience in the History of Life internship is truly fun and exciting!