Summer has finally begun! While for most people this means beach days, barbeques, and fun in the sun, it means something a little bit different for the Smith Lab – it’s field season! Field season is the time of year when a majority of the lab members are free from school-related obligations, such as classes and teaching. This means that there’s more time to travel to the sites we study to conduct experiments, make observations, and collect data and samples for analysis in the lab at a later date. So, where is everyone off to this summer?
Levi Lewis & Jill Harris are going to the Maldives to establish a partnership between our lab and a brand new research facility, the Korallion lab. They will be studying the cryptofaunal invertebrates, turf algae, and using the Coral Health Index (CHI) metric to compare the remote reefs of the Indian Ocean to other remote coral reefs where our lab has worked. Levi will also be visiting the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and Kaho’olawe, and will be going to his long-term field sites in Maui to remove his sea urchin cage experiment that has been in the water for almost two years!
Emily Kelly is currently in Maui, thinking about fish recruitment (settlement of juvenile fish on the reefs) and algal growth rates. She will also be visiting Oahu to investigate the impact of herbivores across broad spatial scales.
Amanda Carter, who recently just had her first field experience assisting Levi in Maui, will be embarking on her second field trip in July. She is going to Palmyra Atoll with Maggie Johnson (plus a few members of the Sandin Lab) to conduct research related to ocean acidification (OA) and to survey the corallimorph invasion there.
Clinton Edwards recently completed his Masters degree (Yay Clint!) and is staying on as staff to work on the Photo-mosaic project. This summer he will be analyzing the 100m2 photomaosaic images from the Line islands and will also be travelling to the North Western Hawaiian Islands to collect more mosaic images for future processing.
While working in the field is an important aspect of much of the research that is conducted in the Smith Lab, there is always important science going on right here at home in San Diego, too!
This summer, Smith Lab volunteer, Niko Kaplanis, will be working on his undergraduate research project investigating the distribution of the invasive seaweeds, Sargassum horneri and Undaria pinnatifida, throughout the San Diego County coastline. Jill Harris will be assisting him when she returns from conducting field research.
Visiting master’s student from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Emilly Donham, will be in the lab this summer conducting experiments in the Smith Lab’s wet-lab. She will be investigating the effects of OA on benthic organisms from the subtidal regions just off the coast of California.
Susan Kram, who recently defended her master’s thesis (Congrats Susan!), will be in the lab assisting Emily D. in the wet-lab. She is also overseeing the Scripps Water Acidification Monitoring Program (SWAMP), which means she will be coordinating dives to collect weekly water samples and maintain the instruments on the SIO pier.
Molly Gleason, who recently returned from her first time in the field (more on that soon!), will also be in the lab conducting some final experiments and working towards completion of her Master’s Thesis. She hopes to defend her thesis by the end of this summer!
As for me (Samantha Clements), I will be here in San Diego for a majority of the summer processing samples, analyzing data, and working towards completion of my master’s degree. I will also hold a position as a teaching assistant (with Molly!) during UCSD’s second summer session in August. I plan to meet up with Levi in Maui in late September to assist with removal of his long-term cage experiments and collect samples of my own to bring back to SD!
Whew! That’s a lot of hard work and science going on in the Smith Lab this summer!
Check back soon for more updates!