Wow! I’ve already completed my third week of work here at the EPA. This past week was full of “data mining” information on a number of different bivalves. It can get a little confusing with some of the family names (example: Cardiidae and Cardilidae, Nuculanidae and Nuculidae). I have to make sure I’m looking at the right family when I get to the ones with the similar names like that. After a while of working in Excel, I also have to make sure that I am filling information out in the right columns and rows. Thankfully, one of my colleagues taught me a few little tricks which makes it much easier to track what column and row I’m in.
Luckily for me, there were some other events which broke up all the spreadsheet work I was doing. My mentor and a few other colleagues had an important meeting last Tuesday with a professor from OSU who knows a lot about bivalves. This professor gave us some good suggestions. He said that we should try to run some experiments to determine the dissolution rates of shells with aragonite and shells with calcite. Experiments like these would get us more information on whether or not changing acidity will actually causes shells to dissolve. As of right now, my impression is that very little scientific work has been done in this area, so I think it would be good to find out about those rates. My mentor is looking to work with people over at the Narragansett EPA station (on my side of the country!) to get the experiments started. Unfortunately these experiments probably won’t begin until after I leave, but I’m sure my mentor will relay the findings to me.
My mentor also let me listen in on a conference call he had with people at the EPA offices in DC. They were discussing “tasks” that will be put forward in a draft document addressing climate change. My mentor is in charge of the vulnerability working group so I think they will be looking at how different ecosystems and species will be negatively affected by climate change. This phone meeting made me realize how hard it is to organize and coordinate various tasks and projects, especially within a large agency like the EPA. There’s obviously a great deal of planning involved in things like this, but the conference call really drove that fact home for me.
This upcoming week I will be doing some more data mining. I’m excited though because my mentor was talking about letting me go out in the field at some point within the next couple of weeks!
I had a really great weekend too! Some Sea Grant friends invited me to come along with them to Portland for a blues festival, which was totally cool. It was fun exploring Portland because I only had a brief brush with the city when I landed in PDX last month. Yesterday, some friends and I collected a bunch of mussels and we steamed them. I discovered that I’m not really into mussels, but I’m glad I tried some.
Oh, and Happy Belated 4th of July!