Under the heavy fog and misty skies early this morning, the Oceanus quietly meandered to its port at Dutch Harbor. Time, these past nine days, seems to have been compressed and expanded in the bellows of an accordion; moving fast while sampling at a station and then leisurely while watching alien movies between stations. The arrival at Dutch Harbor this morning signaled the start of packing. All scientific equipment had to be securely packed and the monumental task of moving and packing the ZooVis and ARIS had to be done this morning.
Mary Beth and I took a break for our PolarConnect, which went smoothly on our end, thanks to the technical know-how of the Oceanus Marine Technician, Brandon D'Andrea. The participants in our PolarConnect asked thoughtful and incisive questions about the research.
The samples from the plankton net tows and ARIS data are going back with Mary Beth for analysis. Next year, the team plans to collect the same kind of data in the same area in late May and late July. With data from two consecutive years, the team will be able to construct a model of Chrysaora melanaster's growth within a season. From this model, scientists can infer the effects of variable ocean temperatures and the fishing industry on C. melanaster's life cycle.
Being on this expedition, I have gleaned a great deal about the nature of scientific investigation and design. Much careful and detailed planning went into the design of this research. The science team is not only relying on one type of data from which to draw conclusions; the data will come from several sources such as the plankton net tows, the ZooVis images as well as the ARIS images. Conclusions from scientific investigations are stronger if they are supported by more data, especially if that data comes from different sources. Research is not done in isolation; teamwork is key for the implementation of the research plan and protocol. The team of researchers assembled for this project collaborated well and genuinely respected the roles each person played in this research.
I could not have asked for a better team of scientists from whom to learn about scientific research. I am deeply grateful that Dr. Mary Beth Decker took a chance on me and allowed me to participate in her research. Mary Beth has been a patient and thorough mentor as she engaged me in the research.
Now that we are packing up and preparing to return home, I'll be thinking about the next step: what I will bring from this experience to my classes at Booker T. Washington High School later this month.
Polar Profile: Suzan Shahrestani, PhD candidate in Fisheries Science
Suzan is a 5th year PhD student in Fisheries Science at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. Her advice to young people wishing to study any subject in science is to "keep your motivation alive". She states, "Everyone is faced with obstacles from time to time, but it is important to let the passion and love for science power you through any difficulties." She stresses that curiosity is key. In order to stay strong in your passion, you have to want to learn about things. Suzan was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and is bilingual in Arabic and English. Her bilingualism has been an asset to her because she can easily collaborate with scientists from other countries. Suzan finds that her bilingualism has given her perspective and allows her to appreciate different cultures and languages.