Summer in Review, and Next Steps

To echo the words of my mentors in a meeting yesterday, “it’s been 10 weeks already?!” My time at the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) has absolutely flown by. Beyond a doubt, my personal growth and learning over the course of this Summer is due to the amazing network of people within OCOIN and Sea Grant. I felt supported by my mentors who both helped me become an expert in ESRI software, like survey123, and supported my own curiosity and innovation while working on OCOIN’s tools this summer. I also want to recognize my fellow Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, Joshua, whose collaboration allowed me to be a better team member and always challenged me to learn more skills and organize efficiently. 

This internship confirmed that after I graduate in 2022 I want to continue exploring the ways mapping and spatial data can be used as a research method and a vehicle for science communication. I plan on taking a year to work before pursuing a graduate degree in the geospatial data science realm, and I feel confident the skills I’ve learned at OCOIN will help me with both endeavors. Beyond software, my expanded confidence in troubleshooting and the  design and implementation of user-interface updates I gained while working on OCOIN’s tools will be invaluable while searching for jobs. 

Last day on the job selfie, featuring the Oregon Sea Grant hat!

Finally, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the Oregon Sea Grant, my mentors in the CEI program, and the entire team at OCOIN. It was a pleasure to work with everyone and I know we will be in contact in the future!

At OCOIN: Lots of Learning

Interning at the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network forced me to become a jack of all trades – working on outreach emails, interviewing researchers and writing spotlight articles, drafting a budget, and understanding ArcGIS online. I have gained valuable experience in areas that I could never have imagined at the start of my internship because I was willing to jump into any and all projects, even those outside of the scope of original internship description!

With wonderful mentors in the Sea Grant CEI program, and within OCOIN itself, I learned the importance of networking and met passionate ocean and coastal researchers. I am also grateful for my coworker and fellow summer scholar, Joshua, who I teamed up with at OCOIN to divide and complete all of our summer tasks. Together we have navigated working in a remote environment, learning new software, and optimizing a research mapping tool. Our teamwork allowed us to share and learn from one another and organize our agendas and workloads like a real professional team.

As I enter the last few weeks of my internship, I look forward to organizing OCOIN’s annual meeting and updating more research in our mapping tool that will help our research network stay connected throughout the year to come.

Even though my internship is virtual, I still made it to some tidepools on the coast!

Bridging science and policy

At the start of my internship I thought I would be mostly completing what I’ll call techy/computery tasks (GIS, database management, etc.) for the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network’s (OCOIN’s) Coastal Research Explorer tool. However, my daily work walks the line between science and policy more than I imagined. 

Our main goal at OCOIN is to facilitate the exchange of novel research happening in Oregon through a Coastal Research Explorer tool, both for the benefit of researchers in the ocean science realm but also to make research more accessible for policymakers. In other words, the Coastal Research Explorer is really a science communication device. I’ve come to understand, over my last 6 weeks at OCOIN, that science communication is an essential bridge between scientific discoveries made by researchers and the creation of science-based management and policy. Prioritizing effective communication and easy user experience have guided many updates to the Coastal Research Explorer this summer, including the creation of new legends for our mapping tool and the inclusion of links to journal articles for each research project. 

In addition to discussions of effective science communication surrounding our own webmapping tool, I also had the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings and implementation of coastal policy at a meeting with the Ocean and Coastal Services team from Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. It was intriguing to learn more about web-mapping tools, similar to OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer, that are created and operated by DLCD to educate the public on management areas like the Rocky Habitat Web Mapping Tool. Webmaps can be an effective research sharing device (like OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer) but can be just as user friendly for the end of the policy-making process, informing the public!

OCOIN day in the life

I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the Summer Scholars program! As an intern at OCOIN (Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network) my days often begin with a zoom meeting. The type of meeting changes daily, depending whether it is the technical, outreach, or executive team checking in. We discuss progress on projects like updating research in our Coastal Research Explorer tool, creating newsletters for the OCOIN network, and drafting budget proposals. Often after meetings, I meet with my summer scholar colleague, Joshua, over zoom and work together on our daily tasks. Bouncing ideas off each other over zoom is my favorite part of the job so far!

OCOIN is based in Oregon, yet steering committee members are scattered around the world; our zoom meetings bridge the distance between cities throughout Oregon to as far away as Bermuda, New York, and California. While the time zone differences can sometimes make scheduling difficult, I really enjoy how working remotely can still connect the OCOIN team.

Starting the summer at OCOIN!

My transition from a year of online coursework at the University of Oregon to being a Summer Scholar with the Oregon Sea Grant has been seamless, as the process happened in my own room! This summer I am working as a remote intern with the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network (OCOIN) as a member of the Technical Committee.

My workstation for the summer. On the larger screen is OCOIN’s Coastal Research Explorer tool, while the smaller screen displays OCOIN’s network directory.

OCOIN as an organization is a professional network that aims to connect and facilitate collaboration between scientists, policy makers, and managers who are all involved in coastal and ocean affairs. This goal is accomplished through two tools, the Coastal Research Explorer and the Oregon Coastal & Marine Data Network Directory, as well as outreach efforts such as an annual webinar. The Coastal Research Explorer is a digital platform that allows the sharing of past, present, and future research taking place on the Oregon coast. Researchers and policy makers alike can use the maps and tables within this tool to view and explore research projects across multiple topics. Alternatively, the Network Directory facilitates contact sharing amongst the large OCOIN network.

The three main facets of the Oregon Coastal and Ocean Information Network.

As a member of OCOIN’s Technical Committee, I will be doing a lot of data management this summer: from updating research information in the Coastal Research Explorer and optimizing user capabilities, to updating the Network Directory. Over the first two weeks I met OCOIN’s many steering committee members, began the data updating process, and completed ArcGIS Online classes to prepare for working with the Coastal Research Explorer tool.

I am also excited to do outreach work with Joshua, my fellow Sea Grant Scholar working at OCOIN this summer. Together we will write two newsletters for OCOIN members and assist in the planning of the annual OCOIN webinar. Outreach is essential for sharing new and ongoing coastal research and maintaining the vast OCOIN network. 

The key intersection between the work I will be doing at OCOIN this summer and the Oregon Sea Grant’s mission is the promotion of discovery and understanding for Oregon coastal communities and ecosystems. The sharing of novel research and coordination between researchers is essential for creating new research projects and understanding research that is ongoing or already completed across Oregon.