Summer Fieldwork 2018 Has Begun!

Our summer fieldwork season has begun! It’s going to be a very productive and exciting summer filled with new connections, exciting new data, and much more! I’m really excited to have a great and diverse team of undergraduates joining us in the field this summer! First, I am excited to have an incoming freshman undergraduate student from the Native Hawaiian Science & Engineering Mentorship Program Freshman Bridge program, Kelsi Julian-Araki. Kelsi expressed an interest in marine science and will be conducting a project of her own, while assisting with other projects and gaining field and lab experience. Also joining our team is Kelsey Cushway, all the way from Michigan she is a geology major who is (or will be) interested in our submarine groundwater discharge work. Kelsey is joining us through a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. I also have three recent graduates of our senior level Hawaiian phycology course joining us, Katherine Cockerille, Dominique Elento, and Kevin Ravago. As graduates of botany 480 my senior level phycology students are trained to identify all the algae we might find on the reef. As a geology REU Kelsey will be a great help for the hydrogeology field methods. And, as a local student Kelsi’s familiarity with the island will be a great help in the field, while her enthusiasm for marine science early on in her education will be very welcome on our team!

Beautiful days and extreme low tides at Wailupe.


Gracilaria salicornia collections.

A huge thank you to all of my volunteers thus far, from the Limu Lab Scott Van De Verg and alumni Megan Onuma! From my family, thank you to my mom and James Morgan! I have really enjoyed getting out in the field with all of you.

Graduation Season

There are subtleties of PhD student life that you really aren’t warned about, can’t be warned about, until you experience it. The slower passage of the typical PhD education makes you a more permanent figure in the college than the typical bachelors or master’s degree student. You marinate longer in your research questions and may start to resent the impermanence and lack of depth contained within a Master’s thesis (where in a dissertation you would ask, but how? and why?!). In shared offices you see numerous masters students begin and finish their work year after year. As a teaching assistant you nurture undergraduate students from nervous young freshmen to mature, educated, and eager minded young graduates and professionals.

There is so much opportunity to be proud of your friends and students, but also so much room for goodbyes. The revolving door of Masters and undergraduate degrees, especially combined with the revolving population in Hawaiʻi, leads to a lot of bitter sweet goodbyes. Sweet for knowing so many people, sweet for appreciating their accomplishment, but bitter to say goodbye and continue on with your longer, more in depth research, knowing that you will have to make new friends in the coming fall.

The expertise you gain in a graduate degree also slowly, perhaps in an imperceptive way at first, hones and specializes your knowledge on a particular subject. Your knowledge and interest in one or a few topics becomes so great that you may find it frustrating or difficult to “start at the beginning” for friends and family who do not share your interest. You yearn for connections to those with similar knowledge and interest, yet the number of people who share the expertise to discuss these topics becomes fewer as your knowledge grows.

That being said, it is very important, especially for geographically isolated students and students in obscure fields to attend conferences in order to make friends and contacts in your field. I am very much looking forward to attending the Phycological Society of America conference in Summer of 2019. Conference attendance can also be motivational to drive research results so that they may be presented at the conference. It is important to remember that you are not the only one who cares about, can understand, and is excited about your research! There are also people outside your lab who are doing really cool things in your field! It is great to see that graduate students in phycology really do go on to have careers, continue research, and be involved in the global or national phycological community.