The Race Is On, Mile One

— Written by Ileana Fenwick

The race is on to gain as many skills as possible before the summer’s out and I just crossed the marker for mile one! I’ll be here in Santa Barbara for eight weeks this summer, and here we are at the beginning of week two. This is my last summer before applying to graduate school in the Fall, and there are a number of skills I would like to have in my toolbox before doing so. Amongst my list of skills include: proficiency in R, additional scientific diving experience, DNA extractions and additional microbiology skills. Thanks to my amazing PI, Dr. Holly Moeller and awesome grad student mentors, An Bui and Sevan Esaian it looks like all of my dreams are going to come true!

Coming out here to Santa Barbara feels like a huge blessing. During the summer program I completed last year we visited UCSB for a tour and I had the chance to meet my now mentor Dr. Holly Moeller. Working with her and coming out to UCSB were goals I set shortly after the summer concluded and needless to say I am super excited to be here. My lab even has a book club! Literally, the best thing ever. So far, so good. I have been learning my way around the campus (no bike just yet, but now I have a bus pass!) and everyone in the lab has been so welcoming and friendly. I’m really looking forward to getting to work on my project and learning new skills.

My project will be looking at the kelp wrack (wrack being the washed up material from the water) on the beaches and how the amphipods (for example, sand fleas) consuming the wrack contribute different amounts of organic matter to the sand below them depending on the health of the kelp. Looks like I’ll be digging for plenty of amphipods in the sand this summer! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.

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