Throughout my life I have always heard that one of the things that people strive the hardest for is to create something incredible. This could be in the form of music, artwork, or in our case, projects.
When we started our second summer down in the Keys with CMR, both Lauren and I knew that we were going to be in for a lot of work. We spent many of our evenings staying up reading scientific papers, coming up with a project design, and preparing to present our thoughts to a community of marine biologists. By the end of a long summer of designing our projects and collecting data, we went into our next semester ready to start analyzing everything we had done.
It took many months of long days in the lab identifying substrate, organizing huge data files, and watching videos of damselfish behaviors before we got to the point that were able to actually put it all together into something worth seeing. During this time, I fell in love with my project. It was truly like building something from the ground up and being to see it come to life
This past semester was incredible. I was given the opportunity to present on the project we’d worked so hard to develop at the Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference (SEEC) at Florida State. We spent weeks practicing, running data, and fine-tuning the PowerPoint to become something worth showing to people from all different colleges around the country. Presenting the project was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Despite some (unsurprising) troublesome technical issues, it was a lot of fun being able to talk about something I cared so much about.
What built on the experience even more was our trip to the Keys the next day for our quarterly data collection. Kylie, Daniel, Lauren, Thomas and I had a blast that week. Not only did we work extremely hard to finish everything up in time, but we also got to spend our time hammocking, fishing, and even jamming on the boat to some our favorite “Key’s songs”
As great as this semester has been, there are a few things that are really sad about it ending: two things to be exact; losing two of my favorite people from our lab. Daniel has been with me from the start of my time in CMR. We became certified together, cheered side-by-side many times for our favorite magician (Michael Trixx), and have shared many dinners at Jersey Mike’s. Lauren has become one of my closest friends both inside and outside of the lab. From making crazy jokes that no one else really understands, to laughing uncontrollably at scientific names, and even bonding over getting lost on field trips together, we have really had some adventures. Needless to say, I am going to be completely lost without these two people in the lab next year.
While the purpose of this Creative Inquiry is to learn and develop us as scientists, I truly feel like it’s about much more. This lab has given me some of the best friends I have even known, but as sad as I am to see some of them leave, I know that they are going onto bigger and better things because of what CMR has taught them. Here’s to a great semester with some awesome people, and two more to come!