Mini Field Season Go!

Today has been an exciting and eventful day. It started extraordinarily early at 3 am! When I left with my advisor and co-student to get on a plane headed for the first mini-field season in Belize. It’s going to be a super exciting trip to feel out potential projects and gather some data as a continuation of my advisor’s Ph.D. research. The general idea will be to look at the effects of lionfish on the native fish populations and look at the connectedness of those species.

The excitement started when we got to the airport 2 hours before the flight and an hour or so before it opened. Then the TSA decided that the 1 gallon of 70% ethanol we were bringing on the plane to preserve samples might be an issue. Confusion ensued leading to 3 supervisors being called who in the end agreed that the TSA is ok with it but the airline might have a problem. So then they called the hazardous substances representative from the airline who decided that it wasn’t ok despite the airline having the same rules as the TSA on their website (1.3 gallons of 70% ethanol so Bacardi 151 isn’t ok).

At this point our plane had started boarding and long story short we managed to turn arriving 2 hours early into sprinting to get on the plane! But we made it so everything is good.

Tomorrow we’ll be buying supplies and designing a mechanism for storing captured lionfish mid-dive to avoid stings (fingers crossed!) and then the next day its off to Turneffe Atoll. Its unlikely that I’ll make many/any posts while I’m here but stay tuned for pictures and more posts when I get back. Calabash Cay here I come!

Here’s a picture of the atoll from the internet for you in the meantime.

Turneffe Atoll

Hello World

About a month or two ago I took the SciFund online course. It’s a course designed to teach scientist how to do outreach with a specific focus on doing online outreach. It was fantastic! For me I applied because I figured it would be interesting to learn a bit about that side of science, I already write a couple blogs a month for Speak Up for Blue, an ocean conservation focused blog, and I wanted to learn more about how I could incorporate a blog into my master’s degree program (I start in September with my first trip to the field in July). What I didn’t expect to find was a fantastic community of people interested in doing outreach of all kinds. It was an amazing experience to talk to other scientists working in fields as varied as developing techniques to eliminate methane emissions from natural gas powered cars to researching the use of placebos in medical therapy. Through this course I learned and started to use twitter (@JasonSelwyn) which I’d previously been intimidated by as a strange, bizarre form of communication that I have now learned about how it can be used for effective scientific outreach (there’s even a paper about it!).

At the end of the course we all had to make a commitment of some kind to continuing doing scientific outreach. Here is mine: “My plan is to use twitter to support and grow an audience and either join a group blog or create my own. I also want to participate in #SciStuChat, it sounds really cool what’s going on.”

So there you have it that statement is a plan for the purpose of the blog. I’m going to incorporate blogging as I start my master’s program and field research to blog about A) my research, why it’s important, and why I think it’s cool/exciting and B) my graduate school experience (through being a teaching assistant, to navigating a completely new school, state, and culture in general (I’m going to school in Texas and am from Massachusetts).

So there you have it and welcome to my blog!