Introducing Isaac Olson

Posted on behalf of Isaac Olson

I recently completed my time as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, where I studied Oceanography and Environmental Studies. Throughout my college career, I have studied a variety of coastal anthropogenic stressors, including ocean acidification (OA), harmful algal blooms, and microplastics. Communication, environmental justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion principles are central tenets of both my research and community work. Recently, I interned with NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, helping create a variety of regionalized OA communication and education materials as a Hollings Scholar.

This summer, I will be interning with the Oregon Coastal & Ocean Information Network (OCOIN), a partnership between Portland State University, Oregon State University, Oregon’s Coastal and Marine Data Network, and Oregon Coastal Management Program. Specifically, I will work to enhance the Oregon coastal and ocean information-policy network through a variety of outreach and tech-support projects, including by contributing to OCOIN’s outreach materials, research platform, and website. There will be a focus on equitable data sharing and sovereignty, something particularly exciting to me as a proponent of increased diversity and justice in the geosciences.

Enjoying sunrise in Anchorage, Alaska

Introducing Rana Almassmoum

Posted on behalf of Rana Almassmoum

My name is Rana and I am a junior studying marine studies with a minor in natural resources at Oregon State University. I am from Saudi Arabia but moved to Oregon for school a few years ago. Having spent my whole life along the coast, the ocean has always held a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of exploring the tide pools, fishing, and gazing out at the endless ocean horizon. Eventually, those memories inspired me to come to OSU, hoping to learn more about coastal studies in a different region. Given the global threats facing our coasts, I decided to concentrate my studies on coastal management and policy to strike a balance between ecosystem protection and public access. I hope to play a vital role in protecting coastal areas and allow others to develop the same sense of wonder for our oceans that I discovered as a child.

This summer, I am excited to take on an internship with ICAN that is focused on coastal management and global collaborations. This experience will help strengthen my existing skills and knowledge while exposing me to new areas that can benefit my grad school application as well as my career path. With this internship, I hope to gain the necessary experience that will allow me to work directly with global ocean initiatives, supporting the implementation of management strategies that will drive significant positive change for our coasts. 

Best,

Rana Almassmoum

Introducing Samantha Dillard

Posted on behalf of Samantha Dillard

My name is Samantha Dillard and I am an incoming senior at Oregon State University. I am studying Marine Studies and minoring in Marine Conservation and Management. I have grown to love writing, researching coastal communities, working with the public, and learning about marine mammals. Many of my classes this year have been about efficient science communication and its application for public use. I want to work with policy creation and including varying stakeholders into the climate change conversation. I have always been passionate about ocean science and am excited to learn more about the people’s side of protecting these resources.

Working with OCOIN this summer, I hope to gain professional experience in the conservation field, and relevant work skills. I am hoping to strengthen my communication skills with a variety of professionals. In my free time, I enjoy tide pooling, reading, and going on hikes!

Please let me know if there is anything else you will need from me! I look forward to this summer and meeting the rest of the team.

Best,

Samantha Dillard

Introducing Ari Arellano

Posted on behalf of Ari Arellano

My journey into stem has been anything but linear. Born and raised in the Great Lakes State, it’s no wonder why I have always found solace being in or around water.  I knew from a young age that I wanted to work protecting our natural environment but I never imagined that it would be a possibility, that was, until I moved to Oregon.

Through pure hard work, dedication and determination I was able to land an internship with a local engineering firm, where I was introduced and mainly worked using spatial data and GIS. I currently work as a communications coordinator for a network of STEM hubs within Oregon, which work together to create equitable opportunities for students and educators to engage in STEM across the state.

I am currently a student at Portland Community College and plan on continuing my education at Oregon State University . My greatest academic interests are in water quality, restoration and sustainability.  I acknowledge that there are many different ways into the STEM world, and this opportunity is perfect to figure out exactly where I fit into this realm.  I am beyond excited to grow my GIS and communications skills which will help build a strong foundation for my STEM career. My dream is to be able to study ecological engineering and take what I learn back to my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Work hard, play hard. When I am not in class or at work, I take advantage of being on the west coast by exploring and experiencing all it has to offer. My most recent escapade involves the start of my scuba diving certification!

Introducing Destiny Coleman

Posted on behalf of Destiny Coleman

Here I am pictured in the Florida A&M University, School of the Environment laboratories with my pet fish and a few books I am currently reading. 

I am Destiny Coleman, a graduating senior studying Environmental Science at Florida A&M University. I plan to pursue a career in research and conservation of marine life and environments, specifically targeting marine mammals. Marine biology has been my passion since I was a child, and science and nature have worked their way into major portions of my life. I have a pet crested gecko (Harlequinn) and 7 “plant babies” that I enjoy incorporating into my daily life. Although I enjoy blurring the line between my career interests and personal life, I do value the friendships I have built throughout my college career and a large portion of my free time is dedicated to maintaining those relationships. I enjoy being the “planner” friend who always has creative ideas to bring diverse individuals together for something that can be mutually enjoyed. In my alone time, I have reclaimed my love for reading, scrapbooking, and I often dive and snorkel with friends from school. This summer, I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the SEACOR project and receive hands-on experience in coastal biology before I continue my career as an early scientist.

Miss Destiny Coleman

4th year Environmental Science

Florida A&M University 

Introducing Linnea Ingrid Gebauer

Posted on Behalf of Linnea

My name is Linnea Gebauer, and I’m a rising junior at Occidental College in Los Angeles, majoring in Biology with a minor in Religious Studies. I grew up in Southern Oregon, and have always loved taking trips to the Oregon Coast! Marine biology has always been an interest of mine, and I’m especially interested in the impact of human activity on the ecology and biodiversity of marine habitats. This past school year I’ve also had the opportunity to give science presentations at local elementary schools, and I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved in science communication and outreach! I’m passionate about making science accessible and engaging for all audiences. I’m also a student researcher in Occidental’s Computational Biology lab, where we focus on computational methods in urban wildlife ecology and conservation biology. I’m excited to explore the intersection of scientific research, outreach, and education this summer working with the ODFW Water Program!

This is me holding a boa constrictor in my Zoology lab!

Additionally, I haven’t heard anything yet from my host about background checks, so I’m assuming that isn’t needed for my position. I think that’s everything, but let me know if I can provide any other information!

Best,

Linnea

Science Policy and the Organization of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Before I get to the real substance of this blog post, try saying “South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve” five times fast… It takes some practice, so good luck!

Once you have mastered saying “South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve,” you can move on to the remainder of this post.

Okay, games aside… For this week’s blog, I have answered questions related to science policy that can be seen below in bold.

Now that you’ve been on the job for several weeks, how has your view of science policy changed (if at all)?

My views on science policy haven’t really changed, though working for a state-run organization has given me a better understanding of the resources available to organizations like the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (SSNERR). I’ve also heard more about what it takes to get additional funds through grants for various projects (and it doesn’t seem easy).

Do you have a better understanding of how policy organizations work?

One of my goals for this summer is to have an in-depth understanding of how the SSNERR is run. As of now, I have not had time to learn more about how it works on a macro-level, but I have definitely developed a better understanding of how the SSNERR team works on a micro/local level. I have had the opportunity to work with both the science and education teams this summer; as a result, I feel I have a solid understanding of how similar programs may be organized. I also have a better understanding of what positions are necessary to run a state-guided science organization.

Have you had a chance to attend any agency-level meetings?

I meet frequently with the education team, but have not yet attended an all-staff meeting or meeting of higher status. I will be attending the next all-staff meeting in order to learn about how the meetings and agenda-setting work, though my role at the South Slough (given my limited time) has not made it imperative for me to attend such meetings. I believe I will get to attend a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) meeting this summer as well, which will help me understand the larger system as a whole. 

Does your agency have ties to other states, and/or to national-level organizations?  

The South Slough was the first location designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and is affiliated with the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). This system functions under NOAA. As seen on NOAA’s website, “The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 29 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners.”

Logo for South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
Our logo at the South Slough!

The Human Dimension of Marine Reserves

Mission:  To inherit the knowledge of every place and people I call home. 

 

There’s a first for everything. First job, first road trip, first time meeting the people you now cherish. Being a Summer Scholar promises to be full of firsts: this will be the longest that I have been away from home (Seattle, WA), is my first time doing human dimensions research, is my initiation into the world of working for the government and policy-related work, and is my first internship. I am incredibly grateful that the Oregon Sea Grant in association with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife trusted me to do this work and brought me to where I am today.

Also, thank you mom, dad, loved ones, and my extended family at the University of Washington for all you have poured into me.

Me on Nye Beach at sunset

Image result for marine reserves odfw

For the next ten weeks I will be working with the ODFW’s Marine Reserves Program on the Human Dimensions Research Project. This type of work is fascinating, but ultimately I selected this project because of who would become my mentors.  Tommy Swearingen is the project leader and is a one man show of expertise, initiative, and charisma. He oversees at least 15 different studies that assess the socioeconomic impacts of marine reserve implementation. He has had a Summer Scholar under his wing every year since he was brought onto the team. Being a mentor to him means more than just supplying interns with work–he wants to understand where they come from, and how he can best help them become fully immersed in the work and contribute to their future goals. He is a researcher, but also a teacher. In only the first week under his tutelage, I have gained a comprehensive understanding of the history of Oregon’s coastal communities and of the scope of the Human Dimensions Research Project.

Fishing vessel at dusk approaching the Yaquina Bay Bridge

To ensure the marine reserves are not adversely affecting coastal residents, Tommy and his associates have collected socioeconomic data on the scale of communities to individuals. Seeing as the reserves only make up 3% of Oregon’s coastal area, these effects are difficult to disentangle from larger trends. This is where studies on the individual level–specifically of well-being, world view, and feelings–become crucial. For this, you need an anthropologist.

Specifically, you need Elizabeth Marino. Beth is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at OSU-Cascades, and every now and then she will be driving down from Bend, OR to conduct interviews on fishers and to mentor me. I am inspired by her outlook, knowledge, empathy, and dedication to her work. Just to give you an idea of her background, Beth is the author of Fierce Climate, Sacred Ground: An Ethnography of Climate Change in Shishmaref, Alaska. This documents her decade-long research on some of the first climate refugees, the Iñupiaq people, who are running out of time while their home is engulfed by the sea. Needless to say, her work has real-world consequences.

I am humbled to be working under these incredible researchers and people. By the week’s end, I now know where I fit into the Human Dimensions Research Project:

  • First and foremost, I will be conducting interviews of fishers on their knowledge of the local ocean–which can span back five generations–and on how marine reserves might be affecting their livelihoods. Giving them a voice just might reveal effects that quantitative data fails to do alone.
  • Secondly, I am already in the process of coding (aka categorizing) open-ended responses of a well-being survey of coastal residents. This converts qualitative responses to quantitative data, which could reveal how geography, community culture, and economic well-being all correspond to people’s feelings. It also speaks to what people value and how much they are willing to give up for these values.
  • Lastly, I will be trained on how to maintain an ongoing database of the economic status of coastal communities.

I am beyond excited to see where this work takes me.

Other snapshots from my first week in Newport, OR, my home for this summer:

(Almost) every OSG Summer Scholar working at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. From left to right: Me, Abby Ernest-Beck (EPA), Dani Hanelin (ODFW), and Taylor Ely (ODFW-Marine Reserves). Not pictured + photocreds: Anna Bolm (USDA).

The expanse of Nye Beach, the first beach I visited upon arriving in Newport, looking at Yaquina Head.

A lush beach-side cliff of salal. Coming from a background in both terrestrial and marine science, I am seeing from daily excursions how the ecology of coastal Oregon is not very different from that of western Washington. It feels like home–except with massive beaches of soft sand.

Some of my new friends on the Sea Lion Docks in South Beach.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which we visited the very next day.

Silhouette at sunset. Each day is full here.

 

 

No Hurry in Curry

I cannot take credit for that phrase; unfortunately, as it is quite commonplace here in Curry County. As it should be, though – this place encourages a relaxed-yet-somehow-also-adventurous lifestyle with its numerous hiking trails, secret coves, breweries, thriving rivers, and gorgeous sunsets. As stated in my last post, Dustin and I are here staying at the Port Orford Research Station to shadow two photographers from Portland, Justin and Erik, as part of the South Coast’s media asset building project. South Coast expert Dave Lacey (owner of South Coast Tours) took us around to his favorite spots to partake in various outdoor activities for Justin and Erik to photograph. We essentially ended up being their outdoor recreation models while also shadowing them throughout the trip. It was a fantastic learning experience, as we got to ask them all the questions we liked about photography and the industry, equipment, freelance work, life, etc., all the while paddle boarding in the clearest creeks and over bait balls in the ocean, jumping off boulders into the Chetco river with steelhead fry swimming underneath us, catching newts, tide pooling, drinking local beer, and chasing sunsets. It was definitely one of the best experiences I was fortunate enough to have. I ALSO SAW A RIVER OTTER FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE VERY FIRST DAY OF SHOOTING. The trip could’ve ended there and it would have been a-okay.

waterfall

Staying at the Research Station has been fantastic as well. There is something special about staying in a place that is primarily used by scientists, especially one on the coast near a marine reserve. To put it simply, this is the kind of thing I signed up for. For example, there are rockfish illustrations adorning the walls and books about Oregon coast hiking and marine biology filling the bookcase in my room. There’s also a frozen marbled murrelet in the freezer that has, according to Erik, been there waiting for an Audubon guy to pick it up since Erik was there last. Gross, but it honestly warms my heart. For science, right?

When expressing my interest in sperm whales, the station manager, Tom Calvanese (who is also a marine biologist, diver, rockfish researcher, and the Port Commissioner) lent me Bryant Austin‘s book, Beautiful Whale. Austin created the first ever high-resolution, life-sized composite images of humpback, sperm, and minke whales, and the book chronicles the dramatic story of how he did it.

spermwhale

I devoured that thing in one morning (okay, it’s relatively short, but still). I want to include a passage from the book here because it describes my sentiments about the species so precisely. When describing how it feels to meet the gaze of a whale within six feet, Austin says,

“It is disturbing, because this whale is challenging me to reevaluate our perceptions of intelligent, conscious life on this planet. And that which is challenging these perceptions may also disappear in our lifetimes. What compels me most of all is the thought of losing over five million years of evolving culture and communication in the largest brain ever to exist on Earth, and never to have understood it.” (He’s talking about sperm whales, whose brains are the largest of any creature and have been evolving for over five millions years). “Carl Sagan once said, ‘We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.’ We, being the self-aware cosmos, will lose a significant part of ourselves should we allow these creatures to go extinct.”

Tom also told me about a group of whale researchers who will be staying at the research station for the rest of the summer starting tomorrow. They will be tracking whales along the South Coast as part of a larger research project concerning whale excretion, prey, and ocean acoustics; I will hopefully get to meet them this summer. After seeing James Nestor’s Bioneers speech about Darewin and sperm whales a few months ago, I’ve been reading his book Deep and have been very interested in the creatures since. The plan is to someday become a free diver, join James and Darewin, communicate with the whales, and change the world. Just kidding. (But maybe). Also, sperm whales have learned to take sablefish (black cod) off of commercial long lines in the Gulf of Alaska and other places with their extremely dexterous jaws. This depredation is a huge problem for fishermen as black cod is an extremely marketable (and declining) species of fish, and it has caused significant economic loss for fishermen. Watch this eerie video of it happening. The clicks you hear are the whales.

The whales have begun to learn that the acoustics produced by the engine slipping in and out of gear while the fishermen haul the lines up mean that they get a free meal. Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project is a group of scientists, fishermen, and fisheries managers working together to understand this issue and develop solutions to decrease the interactions while maintaining both whale populations and fisheries.

Being at the research station has been so enriching – learning about whales, getting to know the fellows next door at the Port Orford Sustainable Seafood office, receiving professional and project management advice from Tom (thanks Tom), running early on the beach, cooking delicious meals (thanks fully equipped kitchen), and posting up at sunset upstairs to catch the view.

window

Above & below: the view from my room.

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We also got to know a BEAUTIFUL retired British couple who lives in Port Orford; Rowland is kindly donating some gorgeous wildlife photographs to our project. They took Dustin and I on a wonderful hike and they had us laughing the whole time while they lovingly bickered, told wild stories, and skillfully identified species of plants and insects.

I’d love to live here someday. I didn’t get the chance to see everything, but the people, the views, and Olivia the toothless cat at Tasty Kate’s were enough to get me hooked. Until next time, Port Orford! Here are some more pictures of the adventure (and four rolls of film in the near future. I don’t care what you say Rowly, film is better).

maidenhair

seastar

paddles

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Above, left to right: Justin, Erik, Dustin.

sunset

ledge

Above: Very tiny Justin, Dave, Mark, and Dustin.

Giving Thanks

I couldn’t think of a better last day than having it be the last Shop at the Dock. I spent Thursday making some baked goods to thank all of the fishermen who participated in the program (and tolerated our presence on the docks). Through all of the events, the best part was getting to see how grateful participants and fishermen were and I’m lucky to have been a part of it.

cookies

I am unbelievably proud of this.

With the program over, I’ll look forward to spending some time with my family, getting in some traveling, and finding a job. I’ve always been interested in science and education. Helping with Shop at the Dock and being a part of Sea Grant has solidified my interest in pursuing both. It was really great seeing what a powerful tool education can be and I’d like to find a career where I can incorporate education and outreach with science.

nametag

So long Sea Grant

I wanted to finish off by thanking the village of people who worked so hard to make this summer happen. So thanks Haley, Mary, Sarah and every other Sea Grant employee who made the Summer Scholars Program possible. I am eternally grateful to my mentors, Kaety Jacobson and Kelsey Miller, for the wealth of information, the never-ending guidance and support, and for being a constant source of inspiration. Also huge thanks to the rest of the Shop at the Dock crew- Jess Porquez, Amanda Gladics, and Mark Farley- for teaching me about Newport, fisheries, different career paths, and how to be understanding and gracious towards others with conflicting opinions.

Thank you to my fellow Summer Scholars, who made this summer unforgettable. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by such incredible, kind, and caring people and I will miss you all dearly. Cheers to the many outdoor adventures, the endless sass and sarcasm, the great meals and conversations, and everything in between.

And finally, thanks very much for reading and (hopefully) listening along with me. I’ll finish this post with my final song of the summer from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros called Home. Partly because I’m happy to be headed home for a bit, but mostly because I’m so grateful to have found a little piece of home along the Oregon Coast. Newport, you will be missed.