Exploring changes in California mussels over the summer
This guest blog highlights the experience of a Santa Rosa Junior College - Bodega Marine Laboratory Internship Program participant. The SRJC-BML Internship program is committed to creating an inclusive space for the development of new scientists and leaders and to provide interns with experience conducting research essential to developing careers in the sciences.
Learn more, apply, or donate on the program website.
I spent this summer working on an original research project with my mentor Veronica, a Ph.D candidate at UC Davis. The beginning was spent becoming familiar with scientific material relating to changes in the ocean and the effects on marine organisms. We studied the California mussel this summer. The purpose of the experiment was to investigate any evidence of correlation between changes in the environment and changes in mussel shells. A majority of the work was done using ImageJ image analysis software to collect both quantitative data and qualitative data. The quantitative data was taken at the cross section of shells looking at their overall thickness. Qualitative data was done by analysing the microstructure and determining whether a shell had ordered or disordered structure in their calcite crystals. We are still in the middle stages of the project and will eventually run regressions in RStudio with environmental data in order to get a clearer picture of what's really going on in these mussels and the ocean.
Originally, I had begun this internship with various questions relating to the process that was necessary to produce a quality experiment in biology. My mentor Veronica gave me some great insight into the mindset and work that goes into producing quality research. Veronica has answered my question of how we find correlation between cause and effect in biology. After discovering that most questions in biology don’t have a direct and linear answer, a metaphorical gate in my life has opened into the vast and volatile world of biological research, and one that I am eager to continue venturing into.
I was incredibly fortunate this summer to have been presented with the opportunity. Until recently, I was unaware of how drastically and consequential the effects of global climate change had been affecting the ocean. After directly inspecting them myself and reading up on scientific research, I really began to understand and respect the importance of marine biology. This fascinating and almost alien world beneath the depths of the water surface has enthralled me through most of the summer. At one point I was only strictly listening to deep sea based short horror stories. I intend to continue checking on the status of new studies being reported from the enigmatic aqueous world. While I still remain in a partial limbo attempting to decide which academic path I will commit to, it is with great assurance that I add a new possibility in studying an aspect of marine biology in my future.
About the Author:
Lupe Carrasco is an alumni of SRJC, returning to pursue a degree in biology.