When mentors at our Science Center realized that lab facilities would be closed over the summer, they got creative. Using virtual meetings and cloud-based platforms, mentors and their students have been connecting and working on research that supports NOAA Fisheries’ mission. From analyzing the impacts of ocean acidification and investigating unusual mortality events (UME) in seals, to policy and conservation work with sea-run fish and analyzing fish behavior videos, these students are gaining real-world research experience and overcoming challenges in a shifting landscape. Let’s meet some of our 2020 students!
- December 2019–May 2020: I explored the resilience of juvenile summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), and the American horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) in response to elevated temperature and carbon dioxide levels. The work I helped with focused on quantifying how the morphology—size, shape, and/or structures—of juvenile marine organisms varies in their early life stages.
- June 2020–August 2020: I’m collaborating with other interns in a comprehensive study on the sensitivity of marine arthropods to ocean acidification. We are surveying peer-reviewed papers published from 2010 to 2020. The goals of this meta-analysis are to explore how marine organisms with calcifying exoskeletons respond to varying carbon dioxide levels and to gain insight on how consistently rising carbon dioxide levels in our oceans could potentially affect marine ecosystems. Response variables that were measured included metabolic processes, behavior, exoskeletal content, reproductivity, mortality, and mass.
The past 8 months working at the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Lab have been wildly challenging, enlightening, and more than anything, unprecedented. The transition from in-lab to at-home work has made me more flexible in my mindset and adaptable as a young scientist. My favorite part about my internship was meeting interesting, like-minded people that inspired me to venture further into the field of marine biology. I ended up working closely with a lot of people that I have never even met in person, which allowed me to build connections all over the country while sitting at a desk in my bedroom. Overall, I think this experience has forced me to be more creative in order to overcome the barriers presented by a remote internship.