This city has ensnared my heart completely. I’ve been wanting to write about my new love affair for quite some time but have been uncertain as to how to put it - New York is so elusively enchanting there are almost no words. This small island of Manhattan is absolutely humming with energy, it’s enough to simply walk on the streets to be instantly invigorated, to be reminded that we are all so vibrantly full of life. I am so grateful to be able to conduct my graduate studies in a place so conducive to thought and creativity and movement. As hard as it is to stay focused with sheet amount of things happening here (man, is it hard), I simply can't imagine a better place to stimulate the growth of my mind and character. New York, I love you. Already, I do.
Why hello there, lovely Wordpress world that I so neglect! There's a ginormous amount of things I should post about, both marine news and personal life greatness, but I'm just going to ease back into the habit of blogging without making too much of a thang. Since my class has ended all there is left for me to do is prepare for the upcoming Fiji trip (!) and grad school in general, so I've been kicking back and truly enjoying the simple things in life. Lots of reading, cooking, random spurts of adventure, and sunshine. Oh yeah, and work, but these days tutoring the girls is more of an enjoyment than a chore, they've grown so much this year and are impressing me every day with their curiosity (the other day one of them asked me about vaccines, and let me prattle on about adjuvant and herd immunity and Guardasil for 15 minutes straight, it was bliss)! Basically, it's been a long time since I've had a substantial amount of free time. I've been constantly working, volunteering, studying for various versions of the GRE, and trying to add relevant and valuable things to my resume...and now that I'm in, now that grad school is actually happening, I am granted this amazing window of time where I can direct my energy towards whatever I want. And it's amazing! I'm trying to soak every ounce of it up, because come August (or June even, our first field trip as a lab!) things are gonna get realllll crazy up in here :) Which I am RIDICULOUSLY stoked for. And which brings me to my next point (of the sloppy, not-very-solid points I've made in this post so far): getting back into science as a daily way of life.
One of my favorite things I have going these days is the weekly literature review seminar I'm a part of at UCLA. Even though the research project I was a part of is technically over, our little lab group still gathers to talk about papers we find, chemical ecology, and science life in general. Today our lively discussion included (in addition to chemosensory systems, of course) the topics of worm castings, summer internships, victory gardens, and the colorful history of Fiji, as well as accounts of Dr. Z's numerous near-death plane experiences (note to self: never. ever. fly with Dr. Z). I left UCLA a happy camper, and even more excited for grad school in the fall where once again I'll be immersed in the scientific conversation every day :) Since graduating from undergrad, I've really missed lab life, being a part of a greater academic community, and the access to scientific resources/conversation/development that the academic community offers as a whole. Working at UCLA really opened me up to that realization (as well as the scary thought that I could maybe be happy with being a student my whole life - ahhh! *erasing thought from brain*), so even though I'm very happy living my easy-peasy lifestyle for the moment, it is so so so awesome that I'll be re-joining the hustle and bustle of the scientific community in the near future!
Hmmm that ended on a cheesier note than expected haha. Here are some random photos to distract you from that fact.
It has been a tragically lengthy amount of time since I've posted, but not without good reason. I've been applying to graduate programs! :) Well, technically I haven't applied to a single school yet haha BUT I've been writing a ridiculous amount of essays for grant proposals! There are two huge pre-doctoral grants that I've applied to, one from NSF and one from NOAA, and they both involved long and torturous application processes. SO cross yo fingaaaas! I find out in May whether I'll be a funded grad student or not ;)
But one SUPER cool thing I wanted to share with you all has to do with the research I'm planning to conduct in the next few years. (Hopefully) we all know that our oceans are IMMENSELY important to the health of our planet, not only environmentally (providing climate stability, storing excess CO2, full of a ton of unique ecosystems and crazy cool critters), but also economically. Last year, CORAL REEFS ALONE were estimated to provide over US$ 30 billion in goods and services to world economies, through fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection (uhh, Hurricane Sandy, anyone?? We could definitely have used a nice litte coral reef off the Jersey shore to break up all that wave action...) So if coral reefs alone provide all that, what about the high seas, the Arctic circle, the mangrove forests, the deep ocean? That's a lottt of money coming into the global economy. Couple that with the massive importance of oceans to our planet's general health, and it's pretty obvious. We need to start taking care of our oceans better, and inspiring people everywhere to care! There are actually a ton of amazng NGO's and non-profits out there doing just that, reaching out and connecting science to the public to raise awareness for the plight of our oceans, it's extremely inspiring and uplifting. I try to take an optimistic approach to the whole climate change/end of the world projections, because I'd like to believe that we won't let our planet die without putting up a good fight!
SOO, as a major ocean advocate myself, I'm hoping to pursue a graduate degree in Marine Conservation. I will hopefully end up at Columbia University in the fall, where I'll be working with Dr. Josh Drew to investigate the phylogeography of certain coral reef fish. Ahh, big word! Basically it means I'll be checking out how genetically related fish from one area of the ocean are to fish from a different area. This actually has a whole slew of conservation applications, because it's really important to know how connected two populations are if you're going to try to make management decisions about a specific area. The idea is, whatever you do to one area could very well be affecting another area down the road, or even across the fricken ocean on a different island! So I'm looking to get into that crazy world of genetics and use my findings to help make effective, informed management decisions. I'm pretty excited!
Here's a little video by Dr. Drew introducing some local, traditional forms of management already in place in Fiji! (Fijians are pretty on top of it with preserving their reefs)
Have a great day everyone! More later!