Taking the Island Experience Home

USC Wrigley Institute

For those of you following the WIES blog, you’ve become familiar with the contributions of our Fall Intern Elise Steinberger. An aspiring science writer, Elise joined us this semester to learn about coastal and marine biology before beginning her graduate studies, and blogged about her time with us along the way. With this final post she now heads home to begin her Masters program. We wish her safe travels and good luck! 

By: Elise Steinberger

Every morning the Miss Christy comes in, and every evening it leaves Little Harbor just before the sun. The number of people that come and go each day is astounding – some stay for a day, others for a week, and still others for months. Researchers, students, and even filmmakers have various reasons for spending time on Catalina. As I think about returning to Chicago, I reflect on how different life is in the two places. The tight-knit community that welcomed me on my first day on Catalina will soon become a pleasant memory, as I return to where you are perpetually immersed in a sea of strangers as you walk down the street.


Grant Park in Chicago, on a sunny day.

When I tell friends and family about my internship at the Wrigley Marine Science Center, everyone asks how that happened. The truth is that it all started with a simple email. I have always been fascinated by marine science and, after studying Biology at Northwestern as an undergraduate, my interest in climate change and conservation had consistently grown. This curiosity was coupled with my desire to work internationally at the intersection of environmental and social issues. For this reason, before beginning my Masters in “Health and Science Writing and Reporting” at Northwestern, I wanted to spend time at the Wrigley Institute – in order to better understand how marine scientists and marine institutes operate and how they fit into the puzzle of current global issues. I sent an email to the Wrigley Institute describing my interest in their research and how I planned to use the experience moving forward, and was invited to be an intern for the Fall Semester.

Coming to Wrigley as an intern, I was excited to be involved in any way possible. And I was. I had the chance to talk with marine science experts in various fields as well as diving experts, hyperbaric chamber volunteers, marine biology students, and budding young high school science students. With so many groups coming to the island and events going on, every week was different. Because of this, I didn’t have a ‘typical day’ (aside from feeding the sharks, oysters, and other creatures every morning).


The Wrigley Marine Science Center, my home away from home.

In my time as an intern, I’ve learned about how marine researchers here conduct studies and also how they collaborate to contribute to science and policy; I’ve observed the impact an institute like Wrigley has on young students; and I’ve experienced conservation in all its senses. More than anything, I’ve absorbed the perspectives of the people who live here on Catalina and those that frequent the Institute. All of this was interspersed with sunny kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling excursions… things that I will sorely miss when February in Chicago rears its ugly head. However, weather aside, I look forward to beginning my Masters this winter. With the insights I’ve gained by immersing myself in this scientific and conservation-oriented place, I plan to report on issues related to scientific advances, environmental issues, and how these interact. I cannot thank everyone at the Wrigley Institute enough – those who made my internship possible, as well as those who welcomed me on the island and shared their experiences. I hope to come back and visit very soon! Elise

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