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Rufhiline Tolosa

a summer of sheer bliss

posted August 08, 2014

We last ventured to the the beach. For our last field trip, Noel took us to the New Brighton Beach and to the Peeble/Bean Hollow Beach. It was my second time visiting these places and I was still fascinated by the distinct geographical characteristics of the two beaches. See for yourself!

The New Brighton Beach looks likes this

Here, we looked at the Purisima Formation which has scattered fossil outcrops with scattered whale bones.

While the Peeble Beach looks like this

Instead of looking at fossils, we looked at live organisms in Peeble Beach! I’ve always enjoyed going to the tidepools because I always get to see beautiful creatures of the intertidal zone such as: sea urchins (my favorite), hermet crabs, sea anemones, crabs, oysters, bivalves, barnicles, and many, many, many mussels. It’s scary to step on the rocks because you might be stepping on some type of organisms. It was indeed a day well spent.


Since we saw whale bones at the Brighton beach, Noel showed us a magnificent whale vertebrate the following day.


We also went to visit the general interns at the farm! We learned about the study they were working on: testing different mixtures of soils to see which are effective for agricultural use. It was really fun! We made our own lunch, which was pizza made by yours truly (we made our own pizza). We also made cheese balls. Shoutout to Darren for his delicious mixtures of vegetables for our pizza toppings, Erin for baking the pizza for us, and for the other interns Stanley, Ulises, and Nishia who kindly welcomed us at the farm, and for preparing hands-on activities!

Pizza prepared by yours truly Tram and Rufhiline

The last weeks of the program was spent mostly on our project. Tram and I discovered that Cope’s and Bergmann’s rule does not apply to ostracods at all, therefore, we could relate whether location has any effect to the extent of which ostracod body size follow both rules. It was disappointing but we were not surprised because it has been brought up before that marine organisms could be an exception to these rules. Our time spent on data collection and hard work paid off after presenting our posters.


We began the Wednesday morning enjoying the coffee cake made my our wonderful mentor, Noel (the ostragod), as always it was delish! Then we went over to the Mitchell Building to watch and listen to the General Program interns. We ate lunch and played our last game of mafia which was extremely intense (especially when you’re mafia a.k.a. me). :D The afternoon was spent at the Brauner Hall. We, the History of Life interns, proudly presented our research to four different groups. It was another opportunity to practice communicating our research findings with others.

On the last day of the internships, I once again found myself entering the Mitchell Building, but instead of seeing unfamiliar faces, I saw very familiar faces. Faces of the friends I’ve come to know over the summer.

As I begin my last year in highschool, I am 99.9% sure that I want to major in something Earth and Sciences related.

The History of Life internship is always going to be a great opportunity to explore Earth and Sciences with people who share the same passion. It also introduced me to incredible and kind people whom I’m going to remember as I go through my journey in life. I would like to thank Noel for the help, patience, and kindness; Jenny for organizing the program and for being so welcoming; Jonathan Payne for the helpful feedback on our project; and lastly, I would like to thank the lovely interns for making this summer unforgettable!

I can’t wait to see all your beautiful faces at AGU on December!

Look at these beautiful faces

Still wonderful!

Inside and Out

posted July 01, 2014

We are about to start the 6th week, and my partner Tram and I have been working on our project. We decided to examine the correlation between paleolocation and the extent to which ostracods from when they first appear up to the present follow Cope’s and Bergmann’s rules. We hypothesized that ostracods closer to the equator will closely follow the two rules than ostracods found near the poles. We are using the data from Paleodatabase and also the data that we have been collecting during the summer. In order to perform statistical analysis we are also using “R” which can get very, very confusing, fortunately, we have Noel to help us. So far, we’ve constructed a scatter plot that shows how strong the correlation is within each time period.

Thinking back to the last five weeks, everything is going by so fast! Several weeks ago, we went on a field trip to the UC Berkeley and was able to get a glimpse of the Museum of Paleontology and its tremendous fossil collections.

Intern posing with a T-Rex skeleton
Max was obviously very ecstatic about the T-rex fossil
More Ostracod Treatises!

We also explored the California Memorial Stadium which “sits directly astride the Hayward Fault”. We’ve mistaken a gap--which looked like it was caused by the fault, however, it was actually part of the Stadium. A few more steps and we found the actual evidence of the fault. Efforts to prevent the stadium from falling apart were also seen.

Oh my! So close on capturing Noel’s thinking face
Cal Stadium field
Imagine a crack running across the stadium

An addition to our daily activities was the chance to examine water samples under the microscope. We hoped to find a species of ostracodes. Well, we did--sorta...we found an organism that looked like it was stuck in the sediments and we saw its legs unstoppably moving.

Intern looking using a microscope
Things just got real

Lastly, Noel organized an appreciable overnight camping trip to the Pinnacle’s Natural Park. We went on a good 5 mile hike. There, we were given the chance to look at different igneous rocks. It was very interesting to see rocks that does not contain fossils compare to what we usually see. It was out of the ordinary. In addition, it was a good workout and the view was rewarding!

Mosaic of rock faces
These rocks are so hot!(Volcanic Rocks)
Two interns sitting on a rock
Rufhiline and Tram ROCKin
Pshh, 5miles? We got this

The day after that, we travel over two different outcrops in the Salinas Valley. Like Sam, it was also my first paleontological field experience and I have to admit that it was an amazing experience! You could say that I was hammering rocks most of the time…but Nicole and I did find “cool bivalves” that we added to the pile we brought back to Stanford.

Mosaic of rocks and interns
Mhmm. but Daniel has the hammer!
Mosic of photos
More pictures!

Overall, it is safe to say that everyone is having a good time and learning more and more. Five weeks have gone by so quickly and the summer is almost at its end--slow down summer! Everyone is so nice and I don’t want to say goodbye for awhile.

Second First Blog

posted July 01, 2014

As I entered the Mitchell building on a Tuesday morning, I was introduced to a new batch of unique individuals. Everyone was shy, but after a series of icebreakers everyone began to get comfortable with each other. Its been two weeks since that day and everyone in the History of Life is becoming closer and closer to each other.

We’ve been collecting ostracods data from the treatise and it is surprisingly progressing steadier than last year.

So far we’ve learned about the geological time scale which ranges from 4000 million years ago up to the present. We also did an activity in which we had to think of something that represented the geological timescale (i.e. a clock, some interns even used the Harry Potter series!!) and then we had to present to the whole class! It was quite interesting.

We’ve also read “On Being the Right Size” written by J.B.S. Haldane which talks about how size defines body structure of organisms. The larger an organism gets the more it has to change its physical shape, but the weaker they would become. That is just one of the many things we’ve learned so far.

To stray away from the daily activities,we also had a GIS session. I was introduced to the super cool tool, Google Earth. The hands-on activity made me realize how important maps and/or GIS are to the world!

Not only that I am learning more about the environment but I am also given the opportunity to admire the beautiful Stanford campus and also the chance to meet more wonderful human beings! :D Plus, Noel is a great mentor!

Two weeks have gone by quickly and I am looking forward to more fun filled data collection!

expecting something different,a great opportunity

posted Aug 13, 2013


I can't believe that our time at Stanford has already ended. History of Life Program was a great opportunity for everyone to learn from others, to make friends, and to contribute to science.

To start with, Noel is a great teacher! I can't emphasize on how helpful and patient he was with us in the classroom. He taught us how to use R, a statistical tool that makes analyses easier to perform. Also the end of the summer project presentation was quite interesting. As I listened to the other interns talk about their results, I found out that some of us acquired the same results, or used the same methods/data for our project.


After going to workshops and/or Wednesday meetings, I was introduced to a big understanding of arsenic poisoning, phytoplankton, and earthquakes. I specifically enjoyed the lab tours because it was fascinating to visit other interns’ labs and for them to tell us what exactly they were working on.

The first time I stepped into the History of life classroom, I was quite expecting something different, like measuring a real fossil but to my surprise, we measured from thick ostracod volumes. I remember feeling nervous during the orientation day since I knew that we all came from different cities of the Bay Area. However, throughout the summer, I have gotten close to my fellow interns. I truly had an amazing summer working with the Echinoderms volumes and of course with my fellow interns as well.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Jenny for giving me the opportunity to work at the program and Noel and Jon for helping us throughout our projects. I also appreciate Long for being a great partner and for explaining topics that were vague to me. I’d like to thank each and every one of you “interns” for making my summer memorable! I am going to miss you guys. Looking forward to see you all at AGU!

Learning more and more

posted July 29, 2013

Time goes by super fast when collecting data and learning more about geology. We are already on the 6th week of the program and we are currently working on our projects and collecting more ostracod data. Recently, Noel has been teaching us about topographic maps and how to read and analyze this particular geologic map type.

I enjoyed the Quake Catcher Network session with Angie. It was amazing how a small device like the seismometer can do so much. I also enjoyed the presentation given by Laura about hydrology and arsenic poisoning in southeast Asia. It is fascinating how many contaminants spread underground. I learned that cleaning can be a tedious process.

The highlight of this past few weeks is the trip to UC Berkeley Museum. At the museum we saw actual echinoderm fossils. That was awesome because I've only seen/measured pictures of echinoderms and actually seeing is clearly a different experience. It is an amazing experience because we actually saw the crack at the California Memorial Stadium and we also explored the creek in which the Hayward Fault is located. For now, our focus is progressing on our end of the summer project. I can't wait for the end of the summer presentations to know about what my other fellow interns have discovered during the internship! :)

Getting the hang of it

posted July 06, 2013

The first two weeks of the program had been super interesting, amazing, and at some point also confusing. It is interesting how you can tell the age and taxa of a particular genus or species by analyzing the rock formations of where it is located. For example, we learned that the age of the rock formation at the New Brighton Beach is 1.8-5.3 Ma and that it is called the Purissima formation. I never really payed attention to the marine animals that lives not so deep in the ocean but now that Noel taught us about them I'm much aware of what they are and how fascinating they are. The purple urchins that we saw in Pebble Beach was quite the highlight of the trip. Everyone saw the aristotle's lantern of the urchin of which our fellow intern mates discussed during our mini-group presentations.

Another awesome part of the first two weeks are the Wednesday get-together where we learn about different fields of Environmental Science from after-grad, professors, and/or scientists. My favorite was learning about the importance of phytoplanktons. However, the first few days of data collection was quite confusing but luckily I got the hang of it. :)