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Sahej Randhawa

the internship has been terrific

posted Aug 13, 2013

These past two weeks have been amazing and memorable and perfectly represent my thoughts on my time during the internship. During the past eight weeks, I have gotten to know some amazing mentors and friends and have been able to conduct exciting research on a field that fascinates me. In this last quarter, I had a great breakthrough on my project due to helpful advice from Noel and Dr. Payne. Conducting the final statistical analysis for the project and finalizing the abstract and poster for AGU submission was a meticulous but gratifying process as it reminded me of all the work we put into data collection and research since the beginning of the summer. Another fantastic facet of these past two weeks has been the field trip to the San Francisquito Creek. We learned about how water bodies like creeks and rivers influence the patterns by which deposition occurs and how to identify such patterns once the creek has dried up in the dry season. We also found mollusk shells of recent, partially fossilized, and fully fossilized mollusks and while avoiding some stinging nettles, learned some interesting biology and ecology lessons from our mentors.

The last days of the internship were bittersweet. I felt pleased to have come so far and learned so much about paleobiology, and I was also proud to present the research and findings I had worked to complete. However, I knew I would miss spending time with my friends and mentors in the program and our hilarious and amazing games of football and Mafia. On the whole though, my time in the internship has been terrific and has exceeded all expectations. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this and will always remember this summer as one of the best I have ever had. Thanks to all those who made this experience possible.

keeping me always engaged

posted Aug 04, 2013

These past few weeks have flown by quickly. Our data collecting is progressing remarkably as our set of catalogued and measured ostracod volumes is growing quickly. My research project is also growing more fascinating to me every week as new perspectives and understanding of the data emerges. Writing the first draft of the abstract to submit to the American Geophysical Union for the conference in December helped me congeal my thoughts on my research and the direction I wanted to take. As usual, the lectures and activities that Noel plans are fantastic, keeping me always engaged in the material and learning so much. My favorite activity in the past few weeks was the topographic map activity where we were given a topographic map with stratigraphic layers and formations delineated and had to analyze the information and answer a worksheet. I enjoyed the detective-like analysis that needed to be done in this activity. To conclude, these weeks have flown by quickly between the football games at lunch and research in the afternoon, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time here and look forward to what the last few weeks have in store.

interesting activities and new ideas

posted July 11, 2013

Concluding almost three weeks at this internship, I find that time has certainly flown quickly as each day is packed full of interesting activities and new ideas.

Orientation began the first week and introduced me to many friendly and talented faculty and interns as well as to a field that was new and fascinating to me. As the week progressed, we started collecting body size measurements of echinoderms and learned the basics of their biology and the fossilization process. By the end of that week, I was excited about the following weeks and the greater depth at which we would be able to explore these topics.

Week Two brought opportunities to dive even further into the topics introduced in the first week. For example, one activity involved us researching and presenting about the biology, ecology, and evolutionary history of an order of echinoderms. Furthermore, we also attended our first meeting with the Paleobiology Lab members during which we introduced ourselves to each other. The lab members also scheduled days where they would present their current research to the group, which I looked forward to in order to learn how they went about the research process and scientific method as well as how they were pushing the boundaries of our current knowledge in this field. In addition, this week included fascinated lectures at the weekly Wednesday lunch meeting about Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology and phytoplankton in the Arctic. I enjoyed both lectures as they displayed the interdisciplinary and adventurous aspects of this field that made them truly remarkable. To conclude the week, we also attended two GIS workshop sessions, and I enjoyed learning about this powerful software and after, looking for the edible trees we mapped.

In addition to data collection, Week Three also included learning R, the programming language and going on an amazing field trip to New Brighton Beach and the Pebble Beach tide pools. We used R to plot data points and conduct statistical analysis, which revealed unique trends and behaviors in our collected data set. Since I wanted to gain more familiarity with R, I also wrote code that searched one’s files for any matches with a file containing a list of erroneous measurements to retake, therefore saving us from having to manually check over all our data for errors. Furthermore, the field trip we took was the outstanding experience of the week. At New Brighton Beach, we followed the outcrop along the beach and examined shell beds and the surrounding rock from the exposed Purisima formation. We also saw whale vertebrate fossils and the trace fossils left over from burrowing shrimp and learned about the factors that influence the formation of sedimentary rocks. However, the most surprising find was the group of isopods we found, a species that is one of the closest living relatives to trilobites. Our second stop, the tide pools at Pebble Beach was equally fascinating. At the tide pools, we viewed a wide spectrum of different organisms in the intertidal zone, including diverse alga clumps, barnacles, crabs, and sea urchins. My favorite moment at the tide pools was holding a sea urchin and feeling its spines and mouth on my hand as it tried to move across it. I also enjoyed observing about species I had not learned about before, such as whelks and limpets. Thus, with many memorable moments from the field trip, Week Three was a fantastic week and I look forward to what the rest of the internship has in store.