August 2011 Archives

A copepod and a right whale walk into a bar...

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So I realize that my 10th and final week at GMRI is a bit late to be writing my first EML blog post, but as they say, better late than never!

To briefly introduce myself, I'm Jane, the ecosystem modeling lab summer intern.  My summer project has been to work with the "compupod" model, trying to model the biogeographical limits of four copepod species: three Calanus species, as well as Pseudocalanus newmani.  It's been a fun journey (though not without its trials and tribulations), and I've learned a lot along the way.

Having never programmed before this summer, at the beginning I faced some frustration while working with Matlab. Andy and Nick may have as well when I asked them questions like, "So how do I limit the latitude and longitude ranges again?" and "Why are my figures coming up as lime green boxes?"  Eventually, however, I got the hang of Matlab and learned how to create pretty maps such as this:
(This figure shows the predicted lifetime egg production for Calanus finmarchicus). 

My learning experience this summer has not been limited to expanding my knowledge about copepods and improving my Matlab skills, however.  I've gained a better understanding of the process of conducting scientific research, and of what it's like to work in a research environment.  Flexibility is key; if your project starts to lead you in a different direction, exploring it instead of sticking to your intended plan may lead to some interesting discoveries.  I also appreciate the importance of persisting in spite of roadblocks.  It was discouraging when my model runs led to unrealistic predictions...but I realized that revisions are an inevitable part of the process.

I've also experienced what it is like to work with intelligent, engaged, hilarious people, not just in science but in every department at GMRI.  I have to say, it has set the bar high for my future jobs.

I am sad to see the summer come to an end, but will end this post on a happy note; since today we realized that "copepod jokes" returns zero hits on Google (shocking, right?!), here is the best one I could come up with:

   Why didn't the bank let the copepod withdraw money from his account?

   They knew he was a Pseudocalanus.

And when I said it's the best copepod joke I could come up with, I really meant the only one...but don't worry, the lab is working on it. :)

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