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Howdy, everyone!

My name is Daniel Sund, and this is my first ever blog post! I could not be more proud to be doing it for Oregon Sea Grant, an institution so very close to my heart, as a 2016-2017 Natural Resource Policy Fellow!

Seven years ago – when I officially transferred the focus of my academic studies to marine science – I passed along a nascent resume to my favorite oceanography professor in the hopes of gaining some hands-on experience. Low and behold two weeks later, after an out of the blue phone call from his colleague and then an interview I didn’t know I was walking into, I started work as a research assistant conducting a literature review on environmental hypoxia and its impacts on fish.

Since that first experience, which lasted nearly two years, Sea Grant and I have continued to have a long and fruitful relationship. I have had the distinct pleasure of mentoring other students developing their professional experiences in the Sea Grant Summer Scholars program, serving as a part of the interview committee placing students with mentors for the same program, interviewing for a few of Sea Grant’s fellowships myself, and, coming full circle, becoming a full-fledged Sea Grant Scholar.

Before accepting the Natural Resource Policy Fellowship, I spent that last four years as a field ecologist. I have spent endless days on the small bays in the Pacific Northwest looking at burrowing shrimp, juvenile crab, and intertidal habitats and endless nights watching video, making maps, and analyzing data to try to understand the role commercial oyster and clam aquaculture plays in the ever intricate and dynamic ecology of our estuaries. It surprises many people who know me that I have turned in my field gear and floppy old fishing hat for a position where I am at my desk 100% of my workday. My “fieldwork” now consists of organizing workshops, gathering sets of experts in a room to pick their brains, and rending even more time commitments from their busy schedules to inform resource management. All I have to say is that I am extremely happy with the transition.

As a fellow, I have stepped in as the only support staff in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and am the only person within all of the state’s executive agencies entirely focused on Ocean Acidification (OA) and, on occasion, Hypoxia (OAH). For those of you who don’t know, OA refers to the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere by our oceans, where it chemically transitions to carbonic acid (H2CO3), a weak acid, resulting in seawater with lowered pH (acidified) as our oceans remove more and more CO2 in response to increased atmospheric concentrations. Hypoxia (H) refers to an environmental condition of low oxygen dissolved within the water leading to decreased productivity and stress on organisms that respire on one end to massive fish die offs on the other. This focus of my position on OAH means that I am a single issue type of guy granted the unique ability to entirely immerse myself in the realms of science and policy to better understand and inform resource management as they relate to OAH along the Continental West Coast.

Day to day, my work duties include drafting emails, editing documents, reading literature, and compiling information. However, at a broader level, I have been an integral part of launching an international collaborative focused on combating OAH impacts across much of the globe (OA Alliance). I have also participated in high-level discussions between state, federal, and international governments. Additionally, I have organized regional-level efforts to understand how state governments are monitoring OAH on behalf of the public as well as started the process of identifying the monitoring improvements necessary to insure resource managers are able to respond threats to our coastal resources and the communities that rely upon them. While it may seem like a lot to have been part of in only two months, this list is far from exhaustive.

Being engaged in work that has tangible products with societal benefit is a very different experience from the academic research I have been a part of up until this point. After working as a technician and research assistant, I often felt that the information and insights we were generating were lost to the annals of a journal or our own filing cabinet. In comparison, this fellowship has placed me “where the rubber meets the road” with regards to being able to use research to create tools used both by natural resource managers and stakeholders. It seems to me that the efforts I am currently part of make a more immediate and meaningful impact than anything I have previously worked on. I look forward to continuing my work here and seeing where it takes me.

under: Uncategorized

With the close of 2016 the Research and Scholars Team at Oregon Sea Grant are now beginning to ramp up for the 2017 Summer Scholars Program. Host applications are due this week and student applications are due next month on February 24th. Spring is always a busy time of year for the Scholars program as we review applications, interview candidates, and place successful applicants with host organizations. In 2016 we received nearly 150 applications, and with our increase in advertising to reach a broader audience, I suspect we will reach at least 200 applications this year. The caliber of applicants is always extremely high, and narrowing the applicants down to just ten Scholars is always extremely difficult and takes plenty of time and a team of diligent people.

Summer Scholars are outstanding undergraduate students or recent graduates from around the nation who come to Oregon to work under a mentor on a marine-related project. Scholars work on everything from analyzing fecal indicator bacteria in the Tillamook estuary to evaluating the impacts of lost crabbing gear to creating identification videos for tidepools. Ten students were placed last year in various positions and all blogged weekly throughout the summer. To find out more about the 2016 scholars experience and projects just scroll through this blog and you will encounter plenty of posts!

If you know of any students (or if you yourself are this student!) that would be interested in a paid summer internship on a coastal or marine project, please visit the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars website.

Summer Scholars 2017 RFA Poster

under: Haley Epperly

Hello Everybody,

It’s been a while since my first blog post, so it’s about time that I follow through with that second entry. As you guys may or may not recall, I am looking at the anti-diabetic pharmaceutical drug, metformin, as a contaminant of emerging concern (CEC) in the lower Columbia River. I know I promised to talk more about metformin as a drug, but I thought I would save this topic for next time. Instead, I am going to give a brief overview of my research methods that I have been busy developing for the past nine months.

In my last entry, I discussed the high incidence of Type II diabetes around the world and the discovery of metformin (the most commonly prescribed drug for Type II diabetes) as one of the most abundant pharmaceuticals being introduced into the environment. Metformin is not metabolized by the human body and excreted relatively unchanged into wastewater. Wastewater treatment does not necessarily target pharmaceuticals so much of the drug ends up in the environment.

My primary goal is to characterize metformin in the lower Columbia River in this environmental state. This means taking water samples and somehow measuring how much metformin is in each sample. So how do I do this? This is the question that I have been wrestling with since I started graduate school back in April. The short answer: Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).

PLEASE DON’T RUN AWAY!! Those words scared me as much as you (unless, of course, you happen to be a chemist who loves chromatography). The LC-MS/MS machine scared me even more than that, until I understood that it is just an over-glorified “sorting machine”. I promise I’ll make this as simple as possible, for both you and me — it’s certainly what I’ve been trying to do since I first started my research. The pictures below sum up the bulk of my research and methods right now.

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In fact, I’ve been participating in the OMSI Science Communication Fellowship to figure out how to simplify these convoluted methods. So far, I have completed three Saturday “Meet-A-Scientist” events where I try to communicate complicated scientific topics to a broad public audience (from kids to adults) by using a visual demo. I built a home-made “sorting machine” by reducing the LC-MS/MS machine to its simplest components. I would argue that I’ve learned more than my audience during this process – not only is my demo similar to the real machine in conceptual function, but it also requires an eerily similar degree of mechanical frustration.

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(top) The Beast. Real LC-MS/MS requires a very scare machine. (bottom left) The Beast: Part Deux. Pretend LC-MS/MS also requires a very scary machine that breaks a lot. (right) The silver lining: kids love my home-made sorting machine!

 

What exactly is LC-MS/MS? Well, let’s start at the beginning: what is liquid chromatography (LC)? Liquid chromatography is just a way to separate something (i.e. a compound of interest) from a mixture. In my case, I use high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) which is just faster liquid chromatography under high pressure.

In its most basic form, HPLC requires a column (“stationary phase”) and a solvent (“mobile phase”) — in other words, two things that will interact with your compound in different ways. The stationary phase column is a tube packed with tiny porous spheres. The mobile phase is a liquid that is pumped through the column with your mixture. The idea is that your mixture is pushed down the column with the mobile phase and each compound in the mixture will stick to the column for a different amount of time. The compounds with greater affinity for the stationary phase will be pushed off later than the compounds that have greater affinity for the mobile phase. The goal is to get your compound off the column without other compounds coming off at the same time. The column can be highly customizable to better separate your unique compound, such as sphere size, column length, and modifications to sphere surfaces. The mobile phase can also be customizable depending on your needs, although it is typically water, organic solvent (e.g. methanol), or a mixture of the two. As you can imagine, half the battle with HPLC is selecting the appropriate column and mobile phase — the selection process can take many months of expensive and time-consuming trial and error (this was the first three months of my project!).

HPLC is the first part of the LC-MS/MS machine. The machine injects the mixture (river water, in my case) onto the column and rinses the column with the mobile phase. My mobile phase is a solution of water and methanol that increases with time. As the methanol concentration increases, the compounds in the river water are “pulled” off the column at different times depending on their unique chemical characteristics.

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(left) The HPLC column (stationary phase) is a tube packed with tiny porous spheres. (right) The idea behind liquid chromatography. The mixture plus a mobile phase solvent is injected onto the column and the compounds in the mixture separate at different times as they interact with the column and mobile phase differently.

 

The stuff coming off the column is recorded by the computer and represented in the form of a chromatogram, which shows the amount of material coming off the column over time. However, the question remains: how do we know which compound is coming off the column at which time? This is where the second part of the LC-MS/MS machine comes in.

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The liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) machine consists of two parts: an HPLC machine to perform liquid chromatography (LC) and a mass spectrometer to perform tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The computer represents the data with a chromatogram which shows the amount of material coming off the column with time.

 

Mass spectrometry (MS) is essentially just an extra step of “sorting” based on the specific mass of compounds. After your mixture has been separated by liquid chromatography, a mass spectrometer identifies the compounds coming off the column based on their unique masses.

The mass spectrometer first excites (i.e. ionizes) the separated compounds coming off the HPLC so that the machine can use charges to sort and pull the compounds through the machine to the detector. Specifically, the ionized compounds follow a path through an acceleration chamber and into a deflection field produced by two magnets. These magnets will deflect compounds differently based on their mass. Think of it like being shot through a cannon: the light cannonball will go farther than the heavy cannonball; Calista Flockhart will go farther than Mama Cass. The machine can be programmed to only let one specific mass, several masses, or all masses through to the detector. The detector will then record how much of each ionized compound is coming out of the mass spectrometer.

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A basic mass spectrometer. The compounds coming out of the HPLC column are ionized and pulled through the system. A magnet deflects compounds differently depending on their mass. In this picture, the mass spectrometer has been programmed to detect all ionized compounds, but it can also be programmed to detect only one or a few masses. (picture courtesy of Khan Academy)

 

In my case, I use tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), which goes a step further and identifies the structure of the compound. A tandem mass spectrometer is just like a “basic” mass spectrometer, only the ionized compounds are broken into pieces in a modified acceleration chamber. Instead of sorting whole compounds based on mass, the machine sorts the fragments of compounds based on mass. You can then verify the structure of your compound of interest by looking at what fragments are present or not present. This is especially helpful if your compound of interest is in a mixture with other compounds that have similar masses, which is the case for metformin in river water.

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Caption: A tandem mass spectrometer (MS/MS). The compounds coming out of the HPLC column are ionized and pulled through the system, just like in the basic mass spectrometer. However, MS/MS breaks up the compound(s) coming off the HPLC column into fragments. These fragments are then sorted by mass, rather than the whole compound. MS/MS can help verify the identity of a compound in a mixture of compounds that might have similar mass (as is the case for my river water samples).

 

THAT’S IT! LC-MS/MS is so simple, right?! Needless to say, the method development for LC-MS/MS is an extensive process. Nine months later, and I am just starting to realize this.

I am currently working with the OHSU Core Lab to fine-tune their LC-MS/MS machine for separation of metformin (and its primary breakdown product, guanylurea) from river water. I have a ton of Columbia River water samples from this fall that I am eager to run, so hopefully I will be able to start collecting data soon! In the meantime, I will try my best to separate any LC-MS/MS frustration from my mixture of scientific curiosity that brought me to this amazing graduate program!

Wish me luck!

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Intro and First Quarter Update

Posted by: | December 15, 2016 | 1 Comment |

Hi, my name is Will Fennie and I am a Robert E. Malouf Scholar. I am working on my PhD at Oregon State University and really interested in the early life history of rockfishes. Rockfishes, like many marine organisms, have a planktonic larval phase where their young drift offshore and develop in the pelagic waters off Oregon’s coast. As they develop, these young fish must feed, grow, and return (or recruit) to nearshore reefs. Rockfish face many challenges during this journey. My research aims to understand how the oceanographic conditions young rockfish experience affect their growth. In addition, I want to study how rockfish early growth contributes to a juvenile rockfishes ability to survive the journey to nearshore reefs.

Sorting pelagic rockfishes during the 2016 NOAA Pre Recruit Survey. Photo Curt Roegner.

To study how ocean conditions affect juvenile rockfishes’ growth, I have to collect juvenile rockfish during their pelagic life stage. To determine how early growth determines recruitment to nearshore reefs, I need to collect juvenile rckfishes during their pelagic life stage, their settlement stage (right before they recruit to nearshore reefs), and their poste-settlement stage (once they have settled to reefs). Because the ocean off Oregon’s coast is so wild, I’ve needed to team up with some amazing people to get on the water and collect rockfishes. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Ric Brodeur a year and a half ago and because we shared similar interests, he allowed me to come on his NOAA research cruise to collect pelagic juvenile rockfishes.

Next, my lab mate Dani Ottmann paved the way for OSU students to work with Dr. Kirsten Grorud-Colvert at OSU and with scientists at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW). OSU and ODFW scientists have developed a nearshore groundfish recruitment monitoring program. These scientists deploy moorings offshore of Oregon’s nearshore reefs witha standard monitoring unit for the recruitment of fishes (SMURF) to collect setttlement stage fishes. SMURFs are plastic garden fence mesh cylinders that mimic the kelp canopy habitat juvenile fishes recruit to. The Oregon Coast Aquarium and ODFW provide vessels to reach these moorings. Once there, snorkelers jump into the water to retrieve SMURFs and collect juvenile fishes. Finally, I have to SCUBA dive on nearshore reefs to collect juvenile rockfishes that have settled to benthic habitat.

 

Left: Dani and I retrieving a SMURF in Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. (Photo: Kelsey Swieca) Right: Dani displaying a SMURF with Redfish Rocks in the background.

Left: Dani and I retrieving a SMURF in Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. (Photo: Kelsey Swieca)
Right: Dani displaying a SMURF with Redfish Rocks in the background.

Thanks to all the help I’ve had, I have enough samples to start my research. Through my collaboration with Ric Brodeur, I have access to pelagic juvenile rockfish samples of several species from the last 12 years, and access to the early life stage of black rockfish. Thanks to OSU and ODFW’s SMURF project, I have access to several hundred settlement stage black and quillback rockfishes. Thanks to several OSU dive buddies, I was able to collect settled juvenile black and quillback rockfishes on Oregon’s nearshore reefs.

Next quarter I will be busy working up these samples. Stay tuned for information on how to measure the age and growth of juvenile rockfishes.

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A reflection over the past year

Posted by: | November 21, 2016 | No Comment |

In the summer of 2015 I was fortunate to participate in the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program. Having just graduated from Oregon State University the weekend before the internship started, I was uncertain as to my next steps in the real world. For the first time in my life I was out of the education system. I had no plans for after the Summer Scholars Program ended in August, besides some personal travel. I had no idea how big of an impact this program was going to end up having on the next two years of my life.

I was placed with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Marine Reserves Program in Newport, Oregon. Going from living in the Willamette Valley my whole life to living on the Oregon coast for a summer was a huge change. Where were my ninety degree days floating down the river? The change in weather wasn’t the only big change though. My position was focused on the human dimensions side of the marine reserves, and I was paired up with the ‘lone social scientist’ of the organization, Tommy Swearingen. Social science was a completely foreign topic to me coming from a strict biology background, and I was nervous about how the summer would go. How was I supposed to conduct research and write reports on a field of study I knew next to nothing about? Luckily I had a fantastic mentor that took the time to teach me everything I needed to know (and more at times). It is easily apparent by his genuine interest in my education that Tommy used to be a college professor.

Well I somehow made it through that summer (I went with a fake-it-till-you-make-it approach) and my position as a Summer Scholar turned into a position as a part-time research assistant for the Marine Reserves Program. I also ended up landing a job with Oregon Sea Grant (OSG) part-time as the Summer Scholars Liaison, effectively managing the program that I just came out of. My positions’ titles and roles have changed and expanded as the time I’ve spent in these jobs has progressed. At OSG I’ve gained experience with multiple fellowships, facilitating grant review, planning events, and participating in many professional development workshops. At ODFW I have mentored an intern, been an author on many agency reports, taken the lead on a study from idea formulation to report completion, and presented our work at multiple events.

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The last meeting with the 2016 Summer Scholars cohort following the Final Symposium at Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Going into the Summer Scholars Program in June of 2015, I had no idea the connections I would make would result in two fantastic jobs with respected organizations. The experience and skills I have gained make me feel more prepared and confident when applying for future positions. Currently I am looking into finding a Master’s graduate program to start in the fall of 2017. I’m generally interested in studying mammals, amphibians, or reptile habitat use and how this use changes as a result of climate change and human influence. (Email me if you have any school or professor recommendations!) While my time with OSG and ODFW has been invaluable, and I know I’ll be sad to go when the time comes, I’m itching to get back to my biology roots and do some field work. Whether that comes in the form of graduate school or a research technician position, I don’t yet know, but I’m excited to find out!

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Presenting on the 2016 ODFW visitor intercept study at the OSG Program-Wide Meeting in Yachats.

under: Haley Epperly

Cat Dayger Goes Global

As a fellow, much of the work I do is behind-the-scenes. Editing drafts of documents, taking notes during conference calls, sending emails to follow up on action items, introducing myself to the main players on a given issue. To describe what I am working on during my fellowship, I usually reference the main projects I’m involved in, but skip over the actual day-to-day work I do in support of them, because “send emails” isn’t very descriptive or interesting. Nearly everyone in nearly every job sends emails. Now I have a tangible product of those emails to tell you about.

One of the issues I spend a large portion of my time thinking about in my role as a Policy Fellow is ocean acidification, often shortened to simply OA. What is ocean acidification? The ocean reacts with atmospheric carbon dioxide to form carbonic acid, making the ocean more acidic. If there is a high concentration of carbon dioxide in the air, more of that carbon will end up in the ocean and the ocean will become more acidic. By the way, the ocean is not “acidic” per se, but rather closer to being acidic. That’s a problem because it can prevent shell-wearing creatures (plankton, crabs, clams, oysters, etc) from making their shells properly. No shell, no critter. You can read a more detailed explanation of ocean acidification and why it’s a big deal on the West Coast here.

A bunch of the projects I work on deal with combating ocean acidification in Oregon and on the West Coast more generally. For instance, the newly formed International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, or more simply the International OA Alliance, supports governments and other entities in addressing ocean acidification.

A few weeks ago, the OA Alliance called entities from all over the world to sign on to the Alliance at the 3rd Annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC. The Alliance aims to support those committed to taking action to combat ocean acidification. Our Ocean 2016 brought together governments, non-profits, universities, and more from all over the world to focus on ocean issues, including ocean acidification. Highlighting initiatives together builds greater momentum for each particular issue, making the OA Alliance appearance at Our Ocean 2016 a “big deal”. My contribution? To prepare for the Conference, I worked with a team to develop website copy and short handouts describing the OA Alliance. Yes, that included emails and conference calls and lots of track-changes editing in Microsoft Word. You should check out the OA Alliance website! The OA Alliance had a positive reception at Our Ocean and is moving right along to their next steps. I’m helping with those steps and deliverables too, so stay tuned!

It is fun to have a tangible (is a website tangible?) outcome to show people with pride when asked how my Fellowship is going. Celebrating milestones is essential in the incremental business of science policy.

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This past Tuesday I was confronted with a shocking sexist letter directed at a woman applying to the College of Forestry in 1957. The woman was blatantly told that she could not enroll in the College of Forestry because the social constructs of the time would not allow it. The forestry jobs post college are only suitable for male employees, field trips for the college require sharing sleeping quarters, which would “pose a definite problem as far as a girl is concerned”, and a woman would not be able to fulfill the internship requirement because no forestry organization would hire her. Yikes. The culprit college behind this letter? Oregon State University. Fortunately the College of Forestry has come a long way since 1957. In 2015, 142 men graduated from the College of Forestry as well as 91 women, from 0% female graduates to 39%, a significant improvement.

This letter was brought to my attention during a search advocate training workshop I am taking this week put on by Anne Gillies, the Associate Director of Affirmative Action and Advancement in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at OSU (what a mouthful!). Working in the research and scholars department at Oregon Sea Grant puts me directly in the process of requesting and reviewing applications, and therefore I figured I should know how to navigate this process in a fair and equitable manner. While I certainly do not purposefully attempt to introduce any bias into this process, I am also aware that many employers believe that they are conducting a just search such as I do, and yet there is still a stunning lack of diversity in many STEM fields. Now why is that? Due to this vast discrepancy, I, and the rest of the research and scholars team, am taking action to ensure we are aware of potential biases and how to avoid them.

Focusing on increasing diversity in applicants applying for and selected for OSG fellowships is necessary seeing as there is very little diversity currently in the fisheries field. A fellowship with OSG gives fellows unique opportunities to network and expand their skill sets, as well as provides a competitive edge for their resume when applying to future jobs. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that OSG fellows may have an advantage when applying for some fisheries positions. A study conducted by Arismendi and Penaluna in 2016 found that women and racial/ethnic minorities are sorely underrepresented in fisheries science both in higher education institutions and in federal employment. Despite the fact that slightly more (52%) women are earning PhDs in biological science, the majority (74%) of federal fisheries scientists/managers are male, and over 70% of tenure-track faculty in fisheries are male. This study points out that there is not a lack of well qualified women and minorities in the fisheries field, however, these groups are not ending up being selected for the tenure-track faculty or federal positions. Clearly something needs to change.

Why should we focus on increasing diversity in the fisheries workforce? The main reason is that every individual, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., deserves the same unearned privileges and opportunities. Another important reason is that diversity in general is actually beneficial to a workforce. “Previous research has shown that a diverse workforce generates new ideas, promotes innovation, leads to better problem-solving (Østergaard et al. 2011), enhances scientific productivity (Horta 2013), and increases the chances that the science will be high impact (Freeman and Huang 2015).” – Arismendi and Penaluna 2016. There is nothing to lose, and much to be gained, by incorporating diversity into the workforce. I look forward to entering into day two of the search advocate training workshop tomorrow and furthering my knowledge on this topic.

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The Final Post

Posted by: | September 15, 2016 | 1 Comment |
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First Results for Tillamook Bay!

It seems as though the end of the Malouf scholarship is drawing nigh and that this will be my last blog post. I’m not quite sure where a year went as it seems just a month ago that I was meeting with Dr. Malouf and the other scholarship recipients, happily discussing our research and the work ahead. That said, from another perspective it seems a lifetime spent over the last year slowly grinding forward. In terms of progress, much of the hard computer modeling work is nearing a close and we are transitioning into the significantly more fun results stage. In this pursuit I am working with Jon Allan at the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to make flood maps for public consumption. There is a wealth of progress to be made in this regard, comparing our results to DOGAMI’s and FEMAS flood maps and tracking down the important processes controlling flooding. It feels like a breath of fresh air to be finally getting close to the answers and (hopefully) community shaping results that I began working on years ago. For a problem of this size it’s sometimes easy to get lost in the little details and forget the big picture and the reason why you are here!

While this part of the project is nearing an end, I am considering it only part one of the story. Many lessons have been learned and part two will incorporate these changes as well as input from communities and stakeholders. The two main points that will be tackled in this new approach are:

  1. As per community and stakeholder request, a fully probabilistic approach that both encompasses scientific uncertainty and allows a determination of risk to be placed in the hands of local communities
  2. A generalizing of the modeling process that allows for assessment at multiple locations instead of single study sites.

I have just started spinning up this new part of the project via a collaboration with Peter Ruggiero at Oregon State. I have also restarted a collaboration with Sally Hacker in the integrative biology department to try and transfer our predicted future hydrodynamics to changes in the biosphere. So while the sun is setting on the first stage of the project, it only means a rebirth of these important questions.

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Newport Sunset

I want to end by expressing my vast gratitude to the Oregon Sea Grant folks for funding this project initially (before I was even a student here) and then funding me through the Malouf scholarship. Their vote of confidence has provided me the funding and motivation to continue onward when things get hard. I hope that when my PhD eventually comes to a close, everyone who has read this blog will be at my defense for the true final blog post update. Thanks Everyone!

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Posted by: | September 14, 2016 | 1 Comment |

The summer is just about over and school is starting again in a couple weeks. But what a summer it has been!

Just after school ended, I had the opportunity to go to the upper peninsula of Michigan to attend the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM). Students and professionals from all over the world were in attendance. I got to go on a field trip hosted by the Keweena Bay Indian Community, who showed us around their fish hatchery, native plant greenhouse and garden, nursery, a restoration area that was a previous stamp mine dump site, and their dance ground. They were very hospitable and answered our (numerous) questions.

There were a lot of talks, on a wide variety of natural resource and human dimension topics, and the keynote speakers were extremely interesting. On the last day of talks we were eating lunch and looked outside; it looked like midnight. Then the wind came. Then lightening. Then torrential rain. I was one of the few (ahem, unwise) adventurers to walk the 10 minutes back to the afternoon talks through the brunt of the storm. I had to wring out my pants and still had my own personal puddle at the end of the talk. Ah, the Midwest. Despite that, we had a wonderful picnic on Lake Superior with one of the local delicacies: meat pasties. It’s like a hearty oblong meat pie, and is delicious.

I got to present my poster at the poster session, and had people from several countries as well as from the local Native American community asking questions. I had a particularly interesting conversation about the differences in the meaning behind “tribe” with a fellow from Africa.

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The rest of the summer was quite busy as well, including helping a couple fellow students with field work, getting my field work off the ground, and a phone survey job that had me asking questions of Oregon residents on their opinions and knowledge of Oregon marine spatial planning and reserves.

Currently, I am traveling back and forth between Portland (my current home) and the Oregon coast conducting interviews with tribal members for my thesis. This is extremely exciting and is going extremely well so far.

The amount of work to get to the point of interviewing tribal members is a lot more than I initially thought. Each tribe is a sovereign nation, meaning in part that they each have different procedures and timing for approving any type of research. This is especially important when the research includes traditional knowledge, which is the topic of several of my interview questions. I have had to draw upon my experience working for a tribe prior to going to graduate school. There are extensive data protections that have to be put in place, as well as a sensitivity when interviewing tribal elders that can only be learned with experience. Nonetheless, I have found the experience to be a great learning experience and I look forward to continuing the project.

Since this is my last blog post, I would like to take the chance to express my tremendous thanks to Sea Grant for accepting me and my project into the Malouf scholarship program. The funding has made my graduate experience much more extensive, with being able to go to several local and one larger conference. The funding also allowed me to get the equipment needed for the interview set-up, as well as the travel up and down the coast for interviews, meetings, and trainings that helped make this project possible. I am also thankful for the connections that Sea Grant has made possible, which has made for a very rich networking experience. I highly encourage students to work with Sea Grant if at all possible for the opportunities this great organization offers.

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Week 10: The End (and Beyond)

Posted by: | September 13, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I am writing this from my cute little house in Bloomington, Indiana. I am already in my fourth week of classes at IU – can you believe it?

My last week at ODFW was spent finishing up my final report of my results. I polished the report, cleaned out my desk, and caught a glimpse of Portland on Wednesday before boarding a plane back to St. Louis on Thursday. Four days later, I was sitting in my Evolution class in Jordan Hall, IU’s biology building.

A rushed transition, to be sure (I think I am finally getting settled into a routine), but Newport has not yet left my mind, and I think a few thank-yous are in order.

The crew at ODFW helped shape both my project and personal experience this summer. My mentor, Justin Ainsworth – along with other members of the Shellfish Division, Mitch Vance and Steve Rumrill – offered superb guidance, patience, and support. Carri Andersen, Marilyn Leary, Anne Vandewalle, and Adrian Cardoso made my data collection not only possible, but also enjoyable. They are, and will continue to be, missed.

I could not have asked for a better group of Sea Grant Scholars with which to spend the summer and explore Oregon. Steph, Erin, Jess, Lexi, Collin, Angus, Justin, Ed, and Skyler – it was lovely getting to know you, and you made my summer what it was.

And finally, thank you to Oregon Sea Grant for making this experience possible. Thanks to Sarah, Mary, and Haley in particular for running the program flawlessly. Such a special program requires outstanding leaders, and Oregon Sea Grant has certainly found them.

Moving forward: I will graduate this May with a B.S. in Biology (and some other stuff). After that, I plan to take a year “off” before applying to graduate school. For once, I am not sure what my plans are for the immediate future, which is thrilling. And who knows – maybe I will see Oregon again sooner than I expect.

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under: Claire Mullaney, Summer Scholars

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