Day three on the Oceanus: Unexpected Gifts

By Tracy Crews

This post is part of a series about the 2018 STEM research cruise taking place this week on board the R/V Oceanus. Other posts in this series include Tracy’s report from Day One, and a post from high school student Alishia Keller from Day Two.

Pacific white-sided dolphins

Pacific white-sided dolphins

We started out our research cruise off the Oregon Coast, but as the wind increased down south impacting visibility, we tried our best to outrun it by heading north, into the waters off of Washington. We started out the day over Gray’s Canyon, surrounded by thick fog, wondering if we had traded one weather problem for another. But as the sun rose higher in the sky it burned off the fog and we were able to resume our survey tracks, zig-zagging back and forth from the shallower edge of the canyon, through the deeper water, then back to the other side again. Our quest today was to find those large, elusive whales known to prefer deep water, like sperm whales, beaked whales, and blues.

It wasn’t long before we saw a large pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins, estimated to be 230 in number by our two marine mammal researchers. Soon the dolphins surrounded the boat, darting out of wave crests, performing acrobatics and dancing in the wake of the vessel. The speed and agility they displayed was truly astounding. But as much as we enjoyed their antics, it was time to resume our search for their larger relatives.

Sperm whale fluke

Soon thereafter, as we made our way into deeper water, a solitary sperm whale was spotted. Everyone was excited to see such a rare sight but it wouldn’t last for long. Immortalized in books like Moby Dick, these large, toothed whales are impressive divers and once submerged can stay down for 45 minutes or more. Unsure when or where it would resurface, we continued along our survey transect.

As we moved back into shallower waters, we began to see more of the humpback whales that we have become so familiar with over the last few days. Most were traveling in small, close-knit groups, synchronized as they moved through the water. Others could be seen diving together then “logging” at the surface, floating to conserve energy and recover before diving once again.

deploying CTD

More oceanographic surveying

As the day wound down and wind picked up, we shifted gears to conduct some more CTDs (oceanographic surveys) and decided to conduct another nighttime plankton tow to compare to what was caught the previous night in the Astoria Canyon, off the Columbia River. As we gathered outside on the back deck to watch the sun sink below the horizon, one of the teachers pulled out his guitar and harmonica and we were presented with one last amazing gift, something mariners often wait a lifetime to see- a green flash.

Sunset Day Three

Waiting for the green flash


Tracy Crews is the Marine Education Program Manager for Oregon Sea Grant, the Student STEM Experiences Coordinator for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, and the Principal Investigator for the STEM research cruise taking place this week on the R/V Oceanus.

This cruise is funded by Oregon Legislative funds with additional support from Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University. Track the R/V Oceanus at, and see more photos of this expedition on the Oregon Coast STEM Hub Facebook page.



Shipboard Experience on the Oceanus

By Tracy Crews

Surveying the horizon for marine mammals and seabirds

Surveying the horizon for marine mammals and seabirds

This weekend, a science party of 13 researchers, students, and teachers gathered aboard Oregon State University’s research vessel, the Oceanus, to begin a four-day research cruise aimed at providing mentoring and career connections at sea. The team mission is to conduct marine mammal and sea bird surveys and correlate sightings with oceanographic data and prey distribution. Participants in this cruise include high school teachers and students from Bandon High School, Taft High School in Lincoln City, and Warrenton High School, as well as college students from Southwestern Oregon Community College, Oregon Coast Community College and Oregon State University.

Deploying the CTD

Deploying the CTD

While adapting to life at sea, these teachers and students are learning to handle lines and deploy oceanographic equipment, how to identify marine mammals, seabirds, and plankton. They aren’t just observers but active participants in the science party, operating critical equipment, including hydraulics and data collection systems.

The first day we experienced sunshine and many successes.  Participants mastered their seasickness, and went on to deploy and retrieve plankton nets and CTDs. The abundance and types of plankton (small floating plants and animals) captured in the fine-mesh nets, and the physical parameters of conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth measured by the CTDs will help researchers characterize the water column.

In addition, we surveyed over a dozen humpback whales and numerous porpoises, and used a drone to capture video footage of a humpback whale from above. The video data will help researchers from OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute assess the whale’s body condition, an indicator of overall health.

Life on the water is often exhausting, and after a 14 hour day, we are all ready for some much needed sleep. Laying in our bunks as we are rocked to sleep, we dream of what tomorrow will bring.


Tracy Crews is the Marine Education Program Manager for Oregon Sea Grant, the Student STEM Experiences Coordinator for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, and the Principal Investigator for the STEM research cruise taking place this week on the R/V Oceanus.

This cruise is funded by Oregon Legislative funds with additional support from Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University. Track the R/V Oceanus at, and see more photos of this expedition on the Oregon Coast STEM Hub Facebook page.

Day Three on the R/V Oceanus

By Tracy Crews14322520_10154620897918825_6368728729391639749_n

Internet access from the R/V Oceanus has been inconsistent, but education PI Tracy Crews has been able to send in some photos and observations via social media. Here are some of her observations, sprinkled with links to other blogs from other participants:

Our last day out at sea started with deploying the CTD in the Astoria Canyon in the dark. Our marine mammal surveys got off to a slow start but we were seeing a lot of jellyfish, juvenile sunfish, seabirds, and even some tuna. All of a sudden on the horizon emerged a large pod of Pacific white-sided Dolphins (40+) that started riding the bow of the research vessel. Before they had even departed, a large pod (30+) of finless Northern right whale Dolphins joined them. What a sight to behold!


14292445_10154620897908825_1829467431939711403_n 14370105_10154621326008825_7513331746840510529_nThe researchers from OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute estimated that we saw over 400 Pacific white-sided dolphins and Northern right whale dolphins today in addition to the numerous humpback whales we encountered. Another amazing day out at sea with Oregon coastal teachers and students!


What an amazing cruise it has been! Everyone soaked up the sun on the flying bridge as we made our way into the Columbia River where we dropped off our chief scientist and OSU graduate students before making our way to Portland where we will engage in two days of outreach activities. Our captain used a small boat to shuttle the researchers into Astoria so they can return to work tomorrow. Getting the science party and all their gear off the ship proved to be quite an ordeal involving a crane, step ladder, rope ladder and half the ship’s crew! We were sad to see them go and just a little jealous of their ride in the red rocket. We are grateful to them all for generously giving their time to share their knowledge and passion with us.

To learn more about these amazing researchers, read Ms. Almasi’s blog post “Spotlight on the Scientists













We experienced a gorgeous evening steaming up the Columbia River towards Portland on the R/V Oceanus!



Day Two on the R/V Oceanus

By Tracy Crews

cupsInternet access from the R/V Oceanus has been inconsistent, but education PI Tracy Crews has been able to send in some photos and observations via social media. Here are some of her observations, sprinkled with links to other blogs from other participants:

Day Two of our oceanographic cruise started with us once again surrounded by humpback whales feeding. In addition we have seen more seal lions and flocks of seabirds including some black footed albatross. Our teachers and students continue to shine as they deployed and retrieved another CTD (to measure Conductivity, Temperature and Depth) and collected and entered survey data into the computer on the fly bridge. Unfortunately, the weather turned overcast and chilly today forcing us all to bundle up.

Visit the GEMM lab blog to find out more about the marine mammals and birds encountered on Day Two.

Students and teachers have spent some of their downtime on the R/V Oceanus decorating styrofoam cups to send down to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Here are a couple of photos of the process.

decorating cups

Decorating the cups

attaching cups

The decorated cups were attached to the CTD that was about to be deployed.

Read Ms. Almasi’s blog about the science behind the styrofoam cup experiment


cups and scope

We used two sizes of cups. This photo shows the difference in size before (center) and after (sides) the cups were sent to the deep ocean.

Torres with cups

Dr. Leigh Torres shows what the bag of cups looked like when they returned to the surface














The styrofoam cups made it back from their journey to deep, 1400 meters to the sea floor attached to the CTD.

The sunset was a glorious ending to a great day. Although we didn’t see as many whales today as yesterday, we did see numerous humpbacks, a couple of fin whales, some Dalls porpoises, and some Pacific white-sided dolphins, as well as some sea lions, albatross, and ocean sunfish (mola-mola). We have left the waters off Heceta Head and will be making our way towards Astoria Canyon overnight. Sweet dreams to everyone aboard and on land!

sunset from ship


Tracy Crews is the PI for the “Shipboard Experiences on the R/V Oceanus” research cruise, the Marine Education Manager for Oregon Sea Grant at Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the STEM Programs Coordinator for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.


Day One on the R/V Oceanus

By Tracy Crews

Huge pod of humpback whales put on quite a show for us lunge feeding and breaching. What a great way to end our first day at sea.

A huge group of humpback whales put on quite a show for us lunge feeding and breaching. What a great way to end our first day at sea!

What was Day One on the R/V Oceanus like for the students, teachers, and researchers on board?

Knot tying, safety at sea, deploying and retrieving scientific instruments, interpreting data, conducting effort surveys, and photo identification of whales….

…these are just a few things that teachers and students on board OSU’s research vessel Oceanus put into practice yesterday on the first day of a three day research cruise off the Oregon coast. Before even leaving the dock, participants started their training, learning about shipboard technology and donning survival suits during safety drills. Crossing the bar, we spotted the first marine mammals of the day: a few gray whales and California sea lions. During this cruise, teachers and students will get an in depth look at how researchers identify, track, and study marine mammals in Oregon waters and beyond, and how baththymetry and oceanographic conditions influence the distribution of these animals.


A humpback whale blows at the surface.

As the first day of the cruise progressed and we passed over Stonewall Bank, we spotted a small pod of humpback whales. As we transmitted south, we also encountered a pod of orcas. The grande finale of the day came early sunset when a large group of humpback whales (approximately 50) was spotted near Heceta Bank. They were lunge feeding, opening their huge mouths and taking in water and, presumably, lots of food. A plankton tow confirmed the presence of krill, which is a favorite prey item for humpbacks.

When we came across a huge group of humpback whales, we decided to take a plankton tow and found it chocked with krill.

When we came across a huge group of humpback whales, we decided to take a plankton tow and found it chocked with krill.

With a final debriefing at 8:30 pm, teachers and students wandered off to their shared quarters excited but exhausted with a greater understanding of marine mammals and an appreciation for how hard researchers work. It was a great start to what we hope will be a successful experience for everyone!


Hear from others on board about what they thought about the first day of the cruise:

R/V Oceanus Day One: Hungry, Hungry Humpbacks from the GEMM Lab – OSU graduate students Florence Sullivan and Amanda Holdman describe the day with some great photos of whales contributed by Chief Scientist Leigh Torres.

Of Whale Poop and Shearwaters – Waldport High School teacher describes what is was like to watch humpbacks lunge feed, and what she learned about the color of whale poop.

What does it look like from the bow of the R/V Oceanus right now?  Visit the webcam here:

Tracy Crews is the PI for the “Shipboard Experiences on the R/V Oceanus” research cruise, the Marine Education Manager for Oregon Sea Grant at Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the STEM Programs Coordinator for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.


Shipboard experience on the R/V Oceanus

Three Oregon high school teachers are among the participants working on the R/V Oceanus this week.

This week, students and teachers from the Oregon Coast STEM Hub are joining Oregon State University scientists aboard the research vessel Oceanus to gain at-sea research experience. The project, “Building the STEM Pipeline through Oceangoing Research and Near-Peer Mentoring” is a collaborative effort that aims to enhance critical STEM skills among coastal learners.

Read the OSU press release

The R/V Oceanus departed this morning from Newport and is headed for Astoria and Portland. Tracy Crews gives this report of their departure:

We couldn’t have asked for better weather as we departed Newport on our cruise offshore to conduct marine mammal and seabird surveys and collect oceanographic data. My first cruise as PI (Principal Investigator), we have 3 high school teachers, 4 high school students, an undergraduate student and 3 graduate students working with our chief scientist from OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute. We got our first glimpse of marine mammals (sea lions and gray whales) crossing the bar and have successfully completed our first CTD. A few seasick folks but otherwise we are off to a fantastic start!

Through this blog and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub Facebook page, you can keep track of the vessel’s progress, the STEM activities taking place on board, and even occasionally hear from the participants themselves. The following teachers and students are on board, representing several different regions within the Oregon Coast STEM Hub:

Coast high school and undergraduate students on board the R/V Oceanus

Coast high school and undergraduate students boarded the R/V Oceanus this morning for a 3 day research cruise

  • Martha Kemple – teacher, Bandon High School
  • Matthew Perry – student, North Bend High School
  • Kama Almasi – teacher, Waldport High School
  • Etasha Golden – undergraduate OSU (Waldport HS grad)
  • Leland Wood – student, Newport High School
  • Natalie DeWitt – student, Newport High School
  • Josh Jannusch – teacher, Warrenton High School
  • Charlotte Watkins – student, Warrenton High School

Teacher Kama Almasi has a blog that she is using to connect back with her students at Waldport High School. Her first entry focuses on the colorful science of seasickness, but we hope no one will be collecting THAT kind of data on this trip!

On their first day at sea, the students and teachers have been working with researchers and crew members to deploy and retrieve CTDs. These instruments collect conductivity, temperature and depth data to provide a profile of the water column.

FullSizeRender[9]FullSizeRender[11]WHERE IS THE R/V OCEANUS?
Track the R/V Oceanus on websites such as Type in the vessel’s special number “7603617” into the search engine, and you can find out the ship’s location, travel pattern and other information.

Stay tuned and follow along to find out what this group will be doing next!


The R/V Oceanus will be in Portland by September 16th, and will offer a variety of outreach activities for the public, teachers and students while the vessel is in port. For more information, read the OSU press release or contact




Tribal Youth Explore STEM

TYEE - Assembling a whale

Assembling a whale skeleton

Building ROVs

Building underwater robots

For the second summer in a row, Oregon Sea Grant hosted the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians TYEE (Tribal Youth Employment Experiences) program at Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC). This week long program was designed to introduce Native American Youth (ages 14-17) to career paths within Natural Resources.

This year’s schedule included lots of hands-on activities such as collecting data on burrowing shrimp and designing experiments with shore crabs from the Yaquina Bay Estuary.  The students also built and deployed light traps to collect plankton, designed and operated small remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and worked with the ODFW port sampler at the Newport Bayfront to collect biological fisheries data.  They were given behind the scenes  tours of the HMSC sea water system, the quarantine and hospital areas of the animal husbandry wing, the fisheries genetics lab, and the “Bacon-flavored” seaweed lab.  In addition, they Skyped with researchers working out at the Axial Seamount, toured the Aquarium Sciences Facilities at Oregon Coast Community College, and listened to presentations from STEM professionals on topics such as hydrophones, seabird research, and shellfish management.

The evaluations that the youth completed were all excellent. 100% agreed they learned more about marine research, ocean issues, and related careers and over half (57%) reported after completing the program that they were considering a career in marine science or a closely related field.

Behind the Scenes tour

Behind the Scenes tour with Dr. Miller-Morgan

TYEE - Fish dissection

Fish dissection





TYEE - ROV testing

Testing student-built ROVs

TYEE - Sampling for shrimp

Sampling for burrowing shrimp











Oregon Sea Grant is a partnering organization in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

STEM Career Profile: NOAA Corps

What is it like to work in a STEM career?  Meet Lieutenant Laura Gallant.  She is the Deputy Chief of Operations at the NOAA Marine Operations Center – Pacific where she helps coordinate logistics and support for NOAA vessels in the Pacific Fleet.

Oregon Coast STEM Hub: How did you get interested in this career?

Laura Gallant - Courtesy photo

Laura Gallant – Courtesy photo

Laura Gallant: I was always interested in the natural world around me and how that all fits together. I realized as I grew up that meant I was interested in science. When I went to college I majored in Natural Resources. While I was there I did a semester abroad with Sea Education Association. We spent six weeks learning about nautical science, oceanography, and marine biology; and then we spent six weeks at sea in the Caribbean on a 120ft long tall ship. We learned to sail and conduct science experiments at sea. It was hard, I was always tired and sea sick; but it was also beautiful, exciting, and interesting. We had a captain who was a real inspiration to me. She was jack-of-all-trades. She had a Ph.D. from Harvard, but could also sail a tall ship and had travelled extensively. She took the time to explain things to me when I wanted to get deeper in to the “why” than our textbooks or lessons included.   She also had such authority!   I mean command at sea is not something we often see women depicted doing in movies and books. I was fascinated.

When I got back to college I wanted to study the sea, so I added a second major in Ocean Sciences. It was during those new classes that I found out about NOAA Corps. I had nearly joined the Navy or the Air Force when I started college because I loved the idea of serving my country, but I wanted to serve in a scientific capacity. The NOAA Corps is science and service. It was such a perfect fit! But even then I decided to go to graduate school. I thought I wanted to get a Ph.D. and be a researcher. I ended up getting a Master’s Degree in Biology and then decided it was time to join the NOAA Corps.

OCSH: What exactly is the NOAA Corps?

LG: NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The NOAA Corps is one of the seven uniformed services. It is also the smallest, with just 321 officers. We staff NOAA’s fleet of research vessels and aircraft. The NOAA Corps officers are the bridge officers and pilots. We work with civilians who serve all the other roles you’d need at sea: engineers, deck crew, shore support, etc.


LT Gallant mans the bridge during ROV recovery – Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

OCSH: How do you get into the NOAA Corps?

LG: We are a direct commission service. That means to get in you need to finish a bachelor’s level education first. We require a certain number of credits in math and science, so most of us are science or engineering majors. There is an application process that is a lot like a college application with essays and an interview. Once you are accepted we go to a 4-5 month officer training program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. After training we go out to the fleet. It takes about six months to a year at sea to get trained underway and qualified to drive the ship without direct supervision. Our ships range in size from 170 to 270 feet long, with anywhere from 21-52 people aboard. So when you are in charge of the vessel you are also in charge of everyone’s safety at sea.

OCSH: As a NOAA Corps officer, what do you do?

LG: In addition to driving the ships, officers also conduct and interpret science. Our ships have three main missions: seafloor mapping, fisheries research, and general oceanography. On the seafloor mapping ships, officers collect the data and then use computer programs to clean and convert that data into new nautical charts. On the fisheries ships, officers consult with the scientists aboard and serve sort of as intermediaries between scientist and ship’s crew. Oftentimes the scientists know what sort of data they want to collect but need specialized input on how to get the ship to best collect that data. Same goes for the general oceanographic vessels. They might be deploying buoys, collecting water chemistry data, or observing whales.

Officers spend about two to three years assigned to a vessel and then rotate into a three year land assignment. Ashore we might work in a NOAA laboratory or in a logistics and support type position. There are a lot of different types of assignments.

OCSH: How is your career related to STEM education?


ROV Deep Discoverer – Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

LG: It’s important to have a STEM background because we are constantly using science, technology, engineering and math. We have to calculate speed/distance/time equations to figure out how fast we should go to arrive on station at a specific time. We use math to interpolate tidal data to figure out the best time to enter or leave a harbor. We analyze surface current and wind vectors to determine the best way to orient the ship for stationary operations. We also use our scientific education to interpret weather data we receive so we know if it will be safe to conduct operations. We are trained in radar and radio technology and learn how to use the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. Some of our ships have sophisticated computers that maintain dynamic positioning, so all the ship’s engines and thrusters are controlled from one console. We have to understand technology and its integration in the ship’s systems to able to use that system safely. It’s a career that relies heavily on STEM.

OCSH: Although normally we can find you living and working in Newport, last April you were on board NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer as it conducted its mission to explore Puerto Rico’s seamounts, trenches and troughs using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer.  What were you doing there?


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer – Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

LG: I worked on Okeanos Explorer for about a year and half as Operations Officer. In April I went back to help train the new officers in ROV operations. It’s the officer’s responsibility to safety deploy and recover this 10,000lb ROV. It isn’t a task we take lightly! The whole crew needs to work together. The ROV supervisor directs the operation, the NOAA Corps officer drives the vessel, and the deck crew works the crane and other rigging.

Learn more about Okeanos Explorer‘s expedition on the website and read Laura’s mission log post: “A Day in the Life of a Watch Standing Bridge Officer” to find out more about her life and duties on board Okeanos Explorer.


Laura Gallant is actively involved with the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.  She has served as a science mentor for the Newport Schools Science Fair, a mission judge for the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition, and she is a member of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub’s Communications Committee.


Skill Set

Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Dr. Su Sponaugle shares how “girly” skills she learned years ago have played a part in shaping her science practices today.



Today I applied what I learned in elementary school. The blanket stitch. I have a Ph.D., but the skill I used today came from something I learned at age 8.




Girls in Engineering and Marine Science (GEMS)

Guest Contributor: Marie Kowalski

GEMS 2015

A team with their light trap

On April 16th, twenty-seven young women arrived at Hatfield Marine Science Center, excited for two sunny days of science and engineering. The Oregon Coast STEM Hub hosted this highly engaging program called GEMS (Girls in Engineering and Marine Science) to connect 7th and 8th grade girls on the Oregon coast with female researchers and engineers working in marine-related fields. The program offered an opportunity for girls to learn about new careers, collaborate, complete engineering challenges, make new connections, and gain confidence in science and engineering.

Completing the ROV challenge at the test site

Completing the ROV challenge at the test site

The first engineering challenge began quickly after a brief welcome and introduction. The girls were charged with building the tallest, strongest structure possible using only a few simple materials. Each team got right to work, collaborating to create a unique design, testing their structures’ strength with pennies, and then redesigning their towers. After this creative warm-up, Sarah Henkel, a professor at Oregon State University, spoke with the group about her research on wave energy development and its effects on benthic communities. Sarah described how complex and exciting research can be, as well as the number of people it takes to operate scientific equipment like ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). The girls were then able to work in teams, designing their own ROVs and testing them by completing an underwater task. The variety of designs was amazing, and everyone got a chance to drive their ROV.

In the afternoon, the GEMS girls had a chance to meet women working with marine organisms of all sizes. Scarlett Arbuckle shared her knowledge of plankton and a method of catching plankton in a light trap. The girls designed and built their own light traps, which they later deployed in the Yaquina Estuary and left overnight. They had to wait in suspense until the next morning to see what types of plankton they had trapped.

Using a launcher to "Pin the tag on the whale"

Using a launcher to “Pin the tag on the whale”

Shifting to animals on a larger scale, Shea Steingass and Barb Lagerquist from the Marine Mammal Institute joined the group to discuss tracking harbor seals and whales. The girls got to see the tags used to track these animals, and many seemed surprised at the size of the tags. They even got to use an antenna to track a tagged “seal” hidden on the Hatfield Marine Science Center campus and practice tagging a “whale” with a straw rocket launcher! Later that afternoon, Christine Clapp from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife walked the girls through a dissection of adult Steelhead. Every single girl was engaged in the dissection, pulling out the gills, swim bladder, eyeballs, heart, and many other organs. Some even had a huge pile of bright orange eggs on their table!

At the end of the first day, the group took a survey of the shore crabs present near HMSC in the estuary, marking and releasing crabs after taking measurements. Even after a full day of scientific fun, girls enthusiastically participated in the Sleep with the Sharks sleepover program at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The girls were able to meet female aquarium staff who worked in several different capacities at the aquarium and learn about their career paths.

GEMS LT2 2015After sleeping in the tunnels with sharks and other fish swimming overhead all night, the girls recovered their light traps and investigated the success of their trap designs under the microscope. They saw many copepods, a larval fish, and several other types of plankton. Friday morning also had an opportunity for the girls to explore the HMSC visitor center and take a behind the scenes tour of the facility with female HMSC husbandry staff.

OSU Fisheries and Wildlife PhD student Chante Davis lead a DNA extraction activity with the group. She also shared a demonstration showing the importance of using genetics to manage fishing practices using goldfish crackers and skittles, yum! The final GEMS guest was Marine Resource Management Master’s student Jessica Porquez. She discussed her research with wind energy devices and their potential impacts on sea birds, which also provided a context for the final design challenge: creating efficient wind turbine blades. The girls worked in teams to create, test, and redesign their turbine blades.

Extracting DNA from strawberries

Extracting DNA from strawberries

This two day program was exciting, collaborative, intellectual, challenging, and inspiring. Many girls asked if the program would be happening again next year, even before it was over.

When asked what was their favorite part of GEMS, some of the girls replied that they especially liked:

“All these strong science women who have done so well in their career and how they told us, thank you :)”

“I enjoyed learning about all of the different marine life and being able to learn about how people got to where they are now.”

“I enjoyed the part when we learned the sleepover attendants’ way to their job over at the aquarium.  It really inspired me to learn how to pursue the husbandry industry.”

“Everything! But if I had to choose it would be the light trap, the crab survey, the wind turbine experiment and the fun sleepover!!!!!”


Marie Kowalski is a master’s student at Oregon State University in Marine Resource Management with a focus on marine education.  She is currently developing a relevant middle school curriculum about microplastics for her thesis.  Marie also gets to be involved with some of the education-related programs at Hatfield, including the Oregon Coast STEM Hub and events like GEMS!