An end to an amazing summer

It always amazes me how quickly 10 weeks can just fly by. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I came into this internship, but everything has been above and beyond anything I could have imagined. During my undergrad, I was very focused on building my skills in scientific research which lead me to participate in various research opportunities. However, I felt that I lacked the skills to apply and communicate that scientific knowledge in a way that would make it useful for policy and management. Throughout this summer, after talking with various professionals and participating in a variety of meetings with my mentor, I can definitely say that I’ve gotten a pretty solid grasp on how to apply and communicate science. I’ve learned how to read and summarize scientific papers so that I am only pulling out the major key points. I got to build my artistic skills and participate in creating various outreach materials to communicate the scientific knowledge in a manner that is easier to digest to the target audience. Additionally, I got to see and interact with some of the “middlemen” between the scientific and the policy-makers to firsthand see how science helps inform policy and management. All the skills and knowledge I have gained throughout this summer will definitely benefit me as I continue with my education and solidify my career path.

Another important thing that I learned from this internship is that your degree doesn’t define what your future career is. I was pleasantly surprised to find just how many people working in the policy realm had a scientific background in biology, marine science, ecology, etc. While I originally thought I wanted to get my Ph.D. and only do research for the rest of my life, I soon realized that academia wasn’t really for me. It was comforting to hear just how many paths that a background in the biological sciences could give you and that it doesn’t necessarily have to take you down the path of academia. Talking individually with various professionals has really helped me start to see all the possibilities I can do with my degree. As I continue on to my master’s program at UC Davis in the fall, I will continue to look for interdisciplinary opportunities that will allow me to explore a career in the intersection between science and policy.

One of the grad photos I took at the blueberry farm where I conducted research during my last term at UO.

An Enriching Summer

I can’t believe we’re about to finish week 8 of this internship program. Time has been going so fast and I’ve gained so much knowledge in the past few weeks. 

This internship has definitely let me build skills that I would have never gotten otherwise. The main one being graphic design skills which I never thought I would gain from a marine biology internship. Adobe Illustrator was definitely frustrating to figure out at first, but once I got the hang of it I’ve really enjoyed delving more into my artistic side. When I was a freshman in high school I thought that I wanted to be an animator but slowly lost passion for that over the course of high school. While I no longer have the desire to pursue a career in art, this internship has allowed me to rekindle my artistic side while combining it with my scientific side. 

Some of my old artwork from high school. The bottom one I submitted to the Tri-Valley Art Show where it won for Mixed Media!

On the science side, I have definitely learned how to better read scientific articles. During my undergrad, reading scientific articles was often a daunting task, especially during my thesis project. Much of the language was so complex and sometimes hard to interpret. But after spending about three weeks reading over 100 scientific papers, they are no longer as intimidating as they once were. Interestingly, it even restarted my interest in reading books.  

Another important thing that I have learned about is informational interviews and how helpful these can be. I’ve always had anxiety around asking for help, especially if it requires a meeting as I am worried about bothering people. But with all my conversations with ODFW employees, I have been pleasantly surprised as to how open people are to speaking with me to talk about their paths and provide advice. I always appreciate the enthusiasm they bring to our conversation and the genuine interest that have in helping me in my career path. Even within the CEI program, I’ve been surrounded by people to ask for advice and to help me build connections with others. Networking is definitely a huge part of any career path and I’ve learned to be less afraid to build those connections. 

On that note, I’ve been surprised by simply how many things each person within the organization is working on. Every person I have talked to seems to be working on about 100 projects at once and it just seems to be magic that they still get everything done. Despite their busy schedules, they still find time in their day to meet with me which just makes me that much more appreciative of them. 

Another surprising thing for me was how I haven’t been burnt out by virtual work yet. After a year and a half of doing college virtually and already at Zoom burnout, I have been surprisingly okay with doing the whole internship virtually. Not sure if it’s the change in settings, if I’ve just finally gotten used to the virtual world, or if I just really enjoy the work, but being in front of my computer for 8 hours a day hasn’t been as exhausting as I thought it would be. I even find the energy occasionally to spend an hour or two after the workday to edit a couple of my undergraduate projects for publication.

Some of the gelatinous creatures I found last summer at OIMB while I was working on my thesis project. Left: Clione, middle: Aurelia aurita, right: Eutonia indicans.

If I could do anything differently, it would be to have engaged with people earlier on in my internship. It took until about week 4 or 5 for me to start setting meetings to talk with professionals as I was just finding myself overwhelmed with having to talk with them one-on-one. But these conversations have been so beneficial to my learning, as well as a great break from just sitting alone in my room and working.

~Yalin 🐟

Diving into the intersection of science and policy

Hello again,

I came into this internship wanting to learn more about the policy side of conservation and environmental work and the intersection of science and policy. I can confidently say that after 6 weeks working for ODFW that I have vastly improved my knowledge about the policy side of this work. Aside from the various meetings that I have participated in, I’ve also been able to connect with various professionals one-on-one and follow part of the process of HB3114 that just got signed by the governor this week! In addition, I’ve been able to build many other skills such as graphic design that I never knew would be so useful in this field. 

ODFW biologist surveying shellfish and their habitats which is one of the projects HB3114 will help fund (source: ODFW SEACOR)

Listening and participating in all these meetings has given me an insight into how long of a process it takes to establish a new law, management plan, etc. I had to pleasure to talk to Cristen Don, the Marine Reserves Program Leader, who informed me that it took almost 10 years to establish the marine reserves as it’s a very intensive process. The process of establishing regulations etc. is much more engaged of a process than I had initially thought with steps that include not just scientific research and negotiation but also community engagement. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of opportunities the public is given to interact with any step of the process. Fishermen, scientists, lawmakers, and everyone in between is given a chance to have their say in the process and collaborate with one another to find the best solution to the issue at hand. I’ve also noticed how far-reaching some of these collaborations can be, for example, the Pacific Coast Collaborative brings together people from California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. On the other hand, there is definitely this trade-off between this long process has it hinders the ability to act quickly to problems as they arise. For example, HB3114, which invests $1 million into the study of ocean chemistry and problems related to acidification and hypoxia, has been in progress for about 2 years and just got signed this week. 

My brother enjoying the water at Haystack Rock

With my current path leading to starting my master’s program in the fall at UC Davis in Environmental Policy and Management, this internship has definitely inspired me to delve further into my studies. I had so many questions going and I accumulate more and more questions as I continue on. I hope to maybe connect with people in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or non-profits like the California Ocean Science Trust while I’m at Davis and continue working at the intersection of science and policy. 

A Day in the Life of a Virtual Intern

Hello all! Yalin again, I am working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this summer researching the effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) on our coastal species with a focus on creating a hypoxia infographic.

So far I have read over 100 scientific papers on how hypoxia is affecting our coastal species, and I still have tons more readings to do in the coming week or so. As I am a virtual intern due to COVID, my daily routine has been pretty simple. I get up bright and early to get a nice cup of coffee and a warm breakfast before I settling into my desk for the rest of the day. Typically, my day split up between reading papers, attending seminars, meetings, and starting to figure out how Adobe Illustrator works. I have weekly check-in meetings with my mentor Liz Perotti and Caren Braby, who is one of the co-chairs of the OAH Council. Other meetings I partake in with my mentor Liz include the Pacific Coast Collaborative bi-weekly meetings, the Shellfish Program meetings, and much more. 

Clams found at the North Jetty Beach in Florance

As it can get pretty quiet just working alone from home, I try to play music or listen to podcasts to liven up my room a bit. My current favorite podcast is called “Two Hot Takes” which I highly recommend you check out. To give my brain a break between reading papers, I will treat myself to 5 or so minutes of scrolling through TikTok or just people watch outside my window to give my eyes a break from looking at a screen. After the workday is over, I usually take a walk around my neighborhood and say hi to the neighborhood cats if it’s not too hot outside. On the weekends, I try to give myself as much outdoor time and social interaction as I can handle to make up for the hours of being indoors for work. This last weekend, I was cat-sitting for a past professor of mine in Eugene and got to visit a few friends while I was there. We even made a trip to Florance where we found a few clams and saw tons of crabs. 

Friendly neighborhood cats

One of my favorite on-the-job activities so far has been interacting with other interns and getting to talk with other professionals from ODFW and beyond. Last week I got to meet Jack Barth, who is the other co-chair of the OAH Council, and Emily Marrow who is an MSI intern working on an ocean acidification awareness project. We had a great time sharing outreach ideas but also just talking amongst ourself about our interest, thoughts about a certain ocean documentary, and so on. We are hoping to meet up in person sometime this summer in Newport, so fingers crossed that we can make that happen!

The Start of a Summer Researching the Ocean from the Comfort of My Own Home


My name is Yalin Li, I am a recent graduate from the University of Oregon and I am working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) this summer. The project I’m working on focused on researching ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) on our coastal species with a focus on the effects of hypoxia, and it affects our coastal communities. It’s nearing the end of week 2 of my time as a Summer Scholar, yet I have already learned and participated in so much in my short time working.

View of all my house plants keeping me company during my long hours at my desk

Oregon was one of the first places to be impacted by ocean acidification and OAH is unique in Oregon as it is driven by the natural process of upwelling that occurs along the Oregon coast. The OAH Council was created to guide Oregon on how to combat this issue of the rising intensity of ocean acidification and hypoxia as it threatens the security and resilience of Oregon’s fisheries, communities, and ecosystem. They created and released an OAH Action plan that acts as a roadmap to address and mitigate OAH with many of the actions being focused around public awareness. 

My main contribution to this project is the creation of an ocean hypoxia infographic to relaying the information from scientific studies to various audiences. I am currently in the process of conducting a comprehensive literature search and reviewing scientific papers to pull out relevant information to put on the infographic. This inforgraphic will show people how the species they care about are being impacted by OAH, and highlight where gaps in knowledge are, so we know what studies need to be conducted to fill in those gaps. In doing so, I will be supporting ODFW’s overall mission to “protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.” Alongside the infographic, I will be participating in various meetings with my mentor Liz Perotti, such as the Pacific Coast Collaborative and Tillamook Bay Clam Advisory Committee (TBCAC) meetings, and aiding in the creation of other pieces of outreach material. 

By participating in the OAH project, I am helping in spreading awareness of the impact of OAH condensing down the current pool of knowledge to make it accessible to managers, legislatures, and the public. This is right in line with the Oregon Sea Grant mission to promote discovery, understanding, and resilience for Oregon coastal communities and ecosystems to achieve their vision of thriving coastal communities and ecosystems here in Oregon. With more support and hands working on this topic, the quicker we can adapt and protect our oceans from OAH so that we and the future generations can continue to use and enjoy Oregon’s thriving coastal communities and ecosystems.

Subtidal collection of clams by the SEACOR Team at Tillamook Bay (source: Tillamook Bay Clam Advisory Committee)

While I might not be able to actively work at the coast this summer, I’m so excited to be part of such an amazing project and can’t wait to see it all come together! ~Yalin 🦑