Wow, what a week! After Thursday and Friday finals, moving out and cleaning out Saturday, and a Sunday afternoon graduation featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, Monday arrived with orientation with Sea Grant and the PCEB of the EPA at HMSC! That would be the Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch of the Environmental Protection Agency, located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and yes, this is only the beginning of the dizzying array of acronyms I would encounter this week.
In turns out, working for the federal government involves some fairly extensive training. The EPA requires employees to undergo 24 hours of Safety, Health and Environmental Management training (SHEM). Once those 24 hours were completed, I was able to move on to the science paperwork and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)! Believe me, while not sounding incredibly interesting, these documents were a relief from the SHEM training. It was in these documents that I was able to see a glimpse of the future science I would be performing. Despite the endless amounts of paperwork that came through my door and unto my desk Tuesday, Wednesday, and into Thursday, I remained incredibly excited about the opportunity that I had received, and that excitement was rewarded on Friday.
On Friday I got my first taste of fieldwork with the EPA. We took the boat out with our personal flotation devices (PFDs) securely fastened and collected samples showing the effects of different nutrient solutions on the growth of periphyton. While this project was not the one I will be working on, it was an important opportunity to get familiar with some of the procedures and equipment that I will be using in my own project. My project will examine nutrient limitations on phytoplankton, and it begins next week! So stay tuned for next week’s post where I will have exciting descriptions of my experimental design, and hopefully some super cool pictures of my laboratory work! Believe me, this lab is neat. Think mesocosm. I have said too much! See you next week!