Week 5: Some Important Lessons

This week was marked mostly by preparations for the trip I am currently on in Willapa Bay, Washington, just north of Astoria. We made and triple-checked lists of supplies, wrote out exactly what we were going to do each day at what times (which matters a lot because of the tides!), researching methods for a study we are going to do about predation on juvenile Dungeness, and finished making the mounts for the GoPro cameras we are putting out in different habitats.

While doing these preparations (I wrote out the protocol myself), I was asked at multiple stages to send my work to various people so they could look over it. Originally I thought that I would be the only one looking at some of it, so I had little notes to myself inserted in various places, and sentences that made perfect sense to me, but wouldn’t to anyone else. I also left out crucial details like exactly how to turn on the cameras and how to know whether they are recording or not. Not only would it be difficult for my coworkers to follow it, but if anyone wanted to copy the methods in the future, it would be very difficult for them to replicate. I learned quickly that you need to always keep your work extremely organized and readable by anyone who may want to see it, even if you don’t think anyone else will see it. At the very least, if you ever want to look back at your past work, details will help you remember much better.

Another lesson I’ve learned through this amazing opportunity is how to talk to people who are much older and more experienced than I am. Previously I have had difficulty with this, as I thought they would not be interested in what I have to say. However, as I talk to more people about a wider variety of subjects, I am quickly learning that is far from true. I am treated as an equal, and asked with real interest about my research. I have also been able to receive tons of good advice about biology research, graduate school, career options, and life in general. I have so many questions about it all, and everyone I’ve talked to has been so friendly and helpful! I am really grateful for the opportunity to be around so many people who are tackling important biological research.

I’m going to save talking about the trip until the end of this week, but I’m having a blast!

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About Sarah Heidmann

I was an undergraduate Summer Scholar in 2013, working with the USDA-ARS on recording GoPro footage of fish and invertebrate use of estuarine habitats in Yaquina Bay and Willapa Bay, WA. I am now coordinating the 2015 program, mentoring the students and using Twitter as an engagement tool. I am a recent graduate of marine biology at Oregon State University, and will begin a Masters of Marine and Environmental Science degree at the University of the Virgin Islands in the fall of 2015.

One thought on “Week 5: Some Important Lessons

  1. There is some great advice for keeping track of research methods in here! I wonder if you would also share some of the grad school advice you received, too? Good luck in Willapa!

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