Newport: My new place

The past few weeks have been exciting and eventful. I returned home after spending a year abroad studying at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton England. Only to unpack, repack and once again say goodbye to home and move into the dorms at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.

My first office

My first office

As far as life in Oregon goes, I am a huge fan. The beach is a 20-minute walk to the west, a campus full of marine science experts sits to the east and a sand volleyball court is just outside my doorstep. I have met some awesome young scientists that share my passion for the ocean from all corners of the USA and I get to live with three of the friendliest and funniest ones! We have spent the weekend exploring the beach and the cute casual coastal town of Newport, complete with quirky coffee shops, delicious seafood and a picturesque lighthouse.

 This week I started my internship with the EPA. After finally ticking all of the federal government’s safety training boxes and moving into my first office, I sat down with my mentors to hear all about the Coastal Biodiversity Risk Analysis Tool (CBRAT), the project I will be working on the next ten weeks.

CBRAT is a program that attempts to define the potential risks climate change poses for marine species living in the Gulf of California up through the Beaufort Sea. The first phase of CBRAT involved cataloging hundreds of marine species, their traits habitats, ranges and taxonomic information. It’s an impressive feat, and some of the data is already available to the public here:

I will be contributing to the second phase of CBRAT that looks at the primary risks climate change poses to ocean creatures through sea level rise, warmer ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

Sunset over the dunes

Sunset over the dunes

My research focus is ocean acidification. Many marine organisms use calcium carbonate to make their shells. As the ocean becomes more acidic calcium carbonate becomes more difficult for calcifying marine organisms like shellfish and plankton to obtain. The good news is some organisms have adaptations that allow them to live in lower pH environments, but the bad news is these adaptations are highly variable and not entirely understood for many species. That’s where I come in; I will be going through the existing literature and identifying characteristics that make ocean acidification a higher or lower risk for a particular organism and developing pH tolerance parameters for different marine taxa.

I am excited for a summer full of long walks on the beach, epic sunsets, improving my sand volleyball game and lots of marine science! Stay posted for updates on my research, adventures and sea creature fun facts.


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3 thoughts on “Newport: My new place

  1. You must have the travel bug with all that moving around you’re doing! This is a great time in your life to be exploring new places. Sounds like you are part of an extremely important project with the effects of climate change looming so intensely. Great job adding to an important database!

  2. There’s something about researching climate change impacts so close to the ocean that makes it seem all the more meaningful. Hopefully you get to add some tidepooling to your Oregon coast experience! Looking forward to sea creature fun facts…

  3. CBRAT sounds like a fascinating tool. I’d be interested in learning more about the spatial modeling aspects of the software. Given Sarah’s suggestion to see some tide pools, Justin and I found pretty good ones at Seal Rock State Park. We should all go check it out sometime!

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