Joining the fall of my junior year, I have been involved with the Conservation of Marine Resources lab for four semesters now. Unfortunately, I will be graduating in May, and my time in the lab will have to come to an end.
Throughout my four semesters, I have gained experience that I thought was not possible while still in college. I have learned how to think like a scientist, seen what the life of a graduate student is like, and acquired expertise in using a variety of methods to answer questions about marine ecology and animal behavior. I have presented my findings each semester and written many abstracts on new research proposals, helping me become more professional and preparing me for the "real world".
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of my time in the Childress lab was experiencing trips to the field in the middle Florida Keys over summer and fall break in 2018. Through these trips, I have been able to see the equally important side of research that has to be done outside of the lab. Many students I know in other research labs never have had the chance to participate in their own field work, so I consider myself very lucky. However, just being in a place as beautiful as the Keys is a reward in and of itself. While we are working from 8:00 to 4:00 almost every single day, it never felt like I was doing work; I enjoyed every minute of our diving, even I was hammering rebar into the substrate of the reef. By the end of my time down there over the summer, I had learned exactly how to live with other researchers in the same house for a month and memorized what everyone's daily lunch order was. On the fall break trip, the untimely appearance of a hurricane right beforehand put a hold on almost all of our research that could be done, but there is little that can be done to combat Mother Nature.
Participating in the Childress Lab has been an unforgettable event in my life, and I want to thank everyone that has made it what it is.