The spirit of innovation and collaboration is alive and well among students at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, as demonstrated throughout the second-annual Scripps Student Symposium (also referred to as S3) held on Sept. 24 at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society and the Environment.
Six enthusiastic Scripps graduate students banded together in the name of science to coordinate the day-long conference, which featured oral presentations and poster sessions highlighting research conducted by Scripps students from a wide array of disciplines.
“The overall goal of the symposium is to bring students together to share the wonderful research we are doing at Scripps,” said Brian House, a Scripps doctoral student in the geosciences program and one of the co-organizers of the symposium. “We hope that by sharing our research, we can come up with new ideas for collaborations.”
A desire to learn more about the impressive depth and breadth of research conducted by students at Scripps led to the development of the inaugural Scripps Student Symposium in 2014.
“A number of the organizers from last year’s inaugural event realized that we barely knew what people just down the hall did, so we thought a student-focused and student-run symposium would be great,” said House.
Presentation topics at the 2015 symposium ranged from the chemical role of marine bacteria in sediments to mountain cloud variability and its relation to California snowmelt, to environmental leadership and teaching science policy to high school students.
“I’m always impressed by the quality of students here at Scripps,” said Jeff Gee, deputy director for research at Scripps and a professor of geophysics. “The best part about Scripps is the students that we produce who then go on to do great things.”
The S3 event was well attended by Scripps students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and staff, as well as local community members. In line with the community-driven focus of the event, audience members had the opportunity to submit their votes for best oral presentation and best research poster, with prizes of $500 in each category funded by an anonymous donor.
Fifth-year applied ocean sciences student Eric Orenstein won the award for “Best Presentation” for his talk on processing ocean data, and graduate student Jeffrey Ellen was awarded the “Best Poster” prize for his research presenting more efficient methods for quantifying plankton samples collected from the California Current.
Scripps alumnus Kurt Schwehr, who received his doctorate in 2006, delivered an engaging keynote address in which he discussed his exciting and unpredictable career path utilizing cutting-edge technology, a role supported by his world-class Scripps education.
“It’s a really exciting time to be a graduate student. You never know where opportunities are going to take you, especially at Scripps, a place full of all kinds of crazy opportunities,” said Schwehr, now head of ocean engineering and GIS data engineer for oceans at Google and an affiliate professor at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire.
“Take risks. What you guys do with the world is going to be radical,” he concluded.
With the successful showcase in 2015, the S3 organizing committee hopes the student-led conference will continue to inspire bright minds for years to come.
“We sure hope this will become an enduring Scripps tradition,” said House. “I’m confident that we’ve established the event to the extent that it will be easy for next year’s committee to continue it.”
The symposium was supported by the Scripps graduate department, and the student organizing committee included House, Mariela Brooks, Soli Garcia, Matt Siegfried, Josefin Stiller, and Lynn Waterhouse. More information about the conference, including a copy of the abstract book, can be found at sss.ucsd.edu.
– Brittany Hook