By: Kenny Bolster
The summer is starting to get into full swing at the Wrigley Institute. I got out here 5 days ago, and it seems like everybody else showed up at about the same time.
The dining hall’s been packed this weekend. On top of the Wrigley staff and researchers, there’s also a scientific dive class, an environmental microbiology class, the USC family science program, this year’s REU class, as well as the graduate students who received summer funding as WIES Summer Fellows (including yours truly). With all these people, we’ve been staying busy. I went snorkeling 3 days in a row with different groups, and saw all kinds of cool stuff. There were these little red swimming crabs that showed up this year, probably as a result of last spring’s El Niño. They were entertaining to watch. I also saw a California Moray Eel, which I’ve never seen in the wild before.
Research wise, the lab has kept me busy. My own research project focuses on the biogeochemical cycles of iron in Big Fisherman’s Cove. The biggest challenge with researching iron is that it is very easy to contaminate your samples. Even a tiny amount of dust getting into a bottle can ruin an experiment. That’s why I had to do a lot of cleaning in my lab space when I first showed up. Fortunately, it’s now all ready to go, and I’m ready to get started doing my experiments.
I’ve been reminded a lot about why this place is such a great location to work. The places where I eat, sleep, and work are only a few hundred feet from each other. We wind up working more than typical workdays without really feeling like it, because the boundaries between work and personal life are so blurry. The friends we hang out with in the evening are the same people who were in the lab with us this morning. A block of working from 9 to 5 is something we just don’t do. We can leave work at 2 and go for a hike, and then come back to the lab at 8 PM. We are spending our summer in an environment surrounded by natural beauty, with ample opportunities for relaxation and recreation, with almost complete flexibility in how we do our research. Is it any wonder that so much stuff gets done out here?
The time out here is going to fly like crazy. Working here is going to be a blast. Who needs summer vacation?
Kenny is a WIES Summer Fellow and a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Moffett at USC. His summer research is ‘Detection of Ferrous Iron in Marine Surface Waters in the Presence of Photochemically Generated Interferences’