Chemistry and Camping!

My workload has definitely increased since before, and I’m really enjoying it! Autumn and I work on the mesocosms every day, checking the water quality of the eelgrass tanks and taking carbonate chemistry samples. We have also been given more responsibility in managing the Burke-o-lator, which is a carbonate chemistry instrument that quanitifes many different aspects of a water sample. The Burke-o-lator is named after Burke Hales at Oregon State University. It’s a state of the art instrument that, as of now, is only available for use in a few other laboratories. It was daunting to learn how to operate it at first, because each sample takes a while to run and you have to keep checking the internal wiring and making sure that nothing is wrong. When we started learning, our mentors were troubleshooting the instrument because one of the wires had sucked up water and the readings were all over the place, and so we were thoroughly warned about how to correctly operate it and to check for danger. We used to only run the Burke-o-lator when at least one of our mentors was present, but now Autumn and I trade off running it for the day and that way we can get a lot more done. I’m having a really great time learning about water chemistry!

Me working with the Burke-o-lator at the EPA

Last week we also had a picnic for the rest of the Oregon Sea Grant Scholars and many past and present mentors were there. One of my mentors, Jim Kaldy, came and was able to meet everyone! It was a lot of fun – the food was so incredibly good. I had apple dumplings for the first time and I need to find that recipe. If this blog gets out to the owner of said dumplings, please know that they were divine and you are incredible, thank you very much. We also met some adorable puppies and walked along Beverly Beach, which is gorgeous.

Then we had a great seminar on what Soft Power is and how we can use it in our daily lives. The day after that we went on a camping trip to Rujada Campground in Umpqua National Forest, which was so incredibly fun! Honour taught us all how to make s’mores with Oreos and Reese’s peanut butter cups inside (there is a specific method, it’s scientific and the product is delicious), Naomi taught us how to skip rocks, and I jumped off a rock into very cold water and had a splash fight with a small kid who was playing nearby. I may or may not have used my long hair to my advantage and shaken it in order to splash him. It was an incredible weekend of hiking, falling in lakes on accident, jumping in lakes on purpose, amazing food, and wonderful company. Jenny Engels came along with us, drove us everywhere, and was such fun company! She was the first one to jump off the rock into the lake! On the way to and from the campground, we stopped in Corvallis to go grocery shopping and visited Tacovore, a taco restaurant in Corvallis, Newport, and Eugene. I had made a sandwich for lunch going there because I’m cheap, but the people who did eat there wouldn’t stop talking about their fantastic tacos, so we went on the way back and I have to say the tacos I had there were some of the best I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Enjoying the beautiful waterfalls near Rujada Campground

All in all it has been a very busy couple of weeks, and I’ve had a blast. I’m going to miss this place and these people so very much when I’m gone. There’s something magical about spending a summer doing research in beautiful Newport, Oregon. Everyone here is so funny, kind, and inspirational, and I’m loving every second.  

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2 thoughts on “Chemistry and Camping!

  1. Ariana, it’s so cool that you and Autumn get to operate the Burke-o-lator unsupervised now, that’s certainly a vote of confidence! Hopefully the only “danger” involved is to the samples, not to you both :) I’m looking forward to hearing all about the eelgrass’ progress. So glad that you had fun camping, you seemed right at home in the chilly river water, we were all impressed!

  2. Wow to the Burke-o-lator! So glad you’re messing with chemistry again. And you went camping in the Umpqua forests!!!! So lucky, that’s where we stayed in the treehouse a couple of summers, remember? Proud of you for being fiscally responsible and making a sandwich – we can talk about its many environmental benefits too later. Will be following the progress of your eelgrass work, so keep posting, please!

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