By Katharine Egan
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the wet lab on the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster watching a video feed from the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that I helped to deploy. The pilot guided the ROV into shallower waters, and I was quick to identify the corals as these depths. I thought about what I was doing this time last year: sitting in front of my laptop using math to find coral reefs just like these for my Master’s thesis research. More specifically, I was using spatial predictive modeling to produce maps showing the potential location of star corals, which can help researchers identify where important reef habitat is located. This year, I didn’t have to predict where the star corals were located, instead I was identifying them as they came across the video feed from the ROV.
By Zac Cannizzo
“Not for you. You just don’t have the mind for science.” The words of my 8th grade science teacher when I asked to be placed in Biology for my freshman year. It hurt. I always liked science, and I loved biology. Some of my earliest memories are watching Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures. From a young age, I wanted to be a biologist. But, I guess it wasn’t for me. I guess I’m not smart enough. I guess maybe I need to do something else. I just don’t have the mind for science.
Two years. I believed her for two years.
By: Andie Chan. I pressed my SCUBA mask to my face as I back rolled off a small catamaran into the warm tropical waters of the Florida Keys. It was my first time SCUBA diving for my Ph.D. research, and I was eager to prove myself. I was starting a project on increasing our understanding of the reproduction and population sizes of pillar corals using genetic techniques, so I needed to collect small pieces of tissue from multiple colonies to bring back to the lab at Penn State. Fortunately, pillar corals at this dive site in Key Largo were conspicuous and prevalent. I swam along a 60 meter stretch of upward-reaching colonies that looked almost furry with their tentacles moving in the current. With great care, I took a small amount of tissue from several colonies to minimize wounding these animals – many of which were likely hundreds of years old.
In the academic world, communication comes in the form of peer-reviewed papers, theses or dissertations, seminar talks, conference talks, and posters. All long format and so deep into the science that you’re no longer certain what language they’re speaking. So, what do you do when you’ve been trained in those styles of communication for the past five years and you begin a communications position in the federal government as part of the Knauss fellowship program for a climate modeling program?
I hit Submit. I felt anxious. I felt nervous. But, I also felt excited.
I had just taken a leap from my comfort zone to a world of unknown.
Four months later, I found myself in tears as I read “Good News! You have been selected as a Finalist for a 2019 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.” I was going to transition from academia to the world of policy in Washington, DC.
And I was terrified.