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Raymond Tran

Better get some popcorn (or glasses at least) because this blog post is going to be a long one.

August 10, 2020

Being that this is the final blog post, I guess I’ll go into what we did during the second half of the internship that I wasn’t able to talk about in my previous blog post and end it off with how I felt about the entirety of the program. Better get some popcorn (or glasses at least) because this blog post is going to be a long one.

Starting off where I left off on my previous blog post, I talked about our research question that the entire biodiversity group was aiming to answer. Was there a preferential body size for extinction, and did oxygen play a role? Spoilers, we didn’t find any good correlations for extinction and oxygen (at least for brachiopods). However, this could be showing that other factors are at play, which is something to look forward to if we were to continue on with this program. We spent our second half of the program coding, graphing on R, and spending time within our breakout rooms on Zoom with our groups for the project. Those breakout rooms were really fun, in my opinion. I didn’t know about the other groups, but my group and I spent the majority of our time just having a blast. When we finished our work for the day, we would sometimes play online multiplayer games like We were still productive though and finished everything on time :) There were also discussions, which were based on the readings that we did each week. Those helped with our research as well. Though it might sound a little “work-intensive”, it really didn’t feel like it. For example, on some occasions, we had “fun days”, where everyone in the program got together to play a game that Michael set up. It ranged from Pictionary to a game called “Zoomed”. These games were fun indeed because you can see people beginning to break out of their work mentality to try to relax a little. This was the main quality of the internship that I really liked. It just felt like I was hanging out with friends.

To end off the program, we had to do a presentation (one presentation for each group) where we showed what we found in our research. In all honesty, presenting wasn’t even that nerve-racking. The presentation was over Zoom, and it’s like the people weren’t even there (since you can’t see them when you go into present mode). I think everyone’s presentation went well. Funny story: My internet got cut RIGHT before I was about to go and present. I had to drive all the way to my cousin’s house and use his laptop. That was pretty stressful, but luckily my group went last so I was able to make it on time. The next step in our journey as SEYI biodiversity interns is to present our research at the AGU Conference. I can’t wait for that to come in the fall! Hopefully, I won’t be late again.

This internship was something that I looked forward to every day. Especially in a time like this when a pandemic is plaguing the world and there is social unrest, the internship was something that always brightened up my day. Although we did have to wake up early each day (9 o’clock is early for me ok), it was always worth it because I got to spend 3 hours of the day learning and researching with Pedro and the rest of the interns. On a couple days of the week as well, we also attended the SEYI education program that Jenny set up and the research lab meetings with Jon and everyone. I learned more over this summer than any other summer; that’s for sure.

Being a scientist means researching the unknown. What was really cool about this internship is that you are doing exactly that! The research question that we are working on hasn’t been explored yet, and we are the first ones to do so. Isn’t that crazy?! The learning that you do in the classroom doesn’t let you do this. In the classroom, you’re learning from the textbook. At this internship, you’re researching something that could possibly be in the next version of your science textbook.

I would like to once again thank Pedro, Jenny, and all the other researchers/faculty who supported the interns and me along the way. However, like Pedro said before we left on our last day, “All good things must come to an end”.

As a first time SEYI intern, I really didn’t know what to expect coming into the biodiversity program.

July 10, 2020

As a first time SEYI intern, I really didn’t know what to expect coming into the biodiversity program. On top of that, due to the global pandemic, the program was to be online. Now, I REALLY didn’t know what to expect. I remember being so happy and glad that the biodiversity program still continued on though, despite this unprecedented circumstance. It just shows that (as cheesy as it may sound) nothing can get in the way of your learning. So you really have no excuse for not applying to SEYI :) . The first week of the internship was filled with dense and quite lengthy lectures. However, science is something that I love, so the lectures were really interesting and informative for me. We also had guest speakers come in to talk about their research, providing us with more background information before we start on our own research project on body size during the Ordovician period. Moving onto week 2 is when we got into coding in R. I have never had experience in coding (aside from learning 2 hours of Python online and giving up after that). Learning to code was a steep learning curve for me, but I think I am getting the hang of it. You’ll be getting a lot of error messages when your code doesn’t work, but that’s okay. It’s honestly so satisfying when you see your command go through after repeatedly seeing the error message 10 times. If I couldn’t get something to work, Pedro or Michael were more than happy to help. This week, we got into our research groups and are officially starting on our topic of whether there is a preferential extinction of genera based on body size during the Ordovician period. Who would’ve thought that size can matter and dictate so much in biology? It’ll be fascinating to see what our results will be in the coming weeks, and hopefully, I can tell you all about it in the next blog post :) !