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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Woods Hole Partnership Education Program

July 25, 2017

Where has all the time gone?

Deborah Leopo, University of California, Santa Cruz

SEA Semester

Above: Nancy Copley shows Deborah a collection of zooplankton. Below: Deborah photographed this zooplankton via the microscope. Example of an amphipod sketched by Deborah using Camera Lucida - sketched in ~1 minute

I can’t believe it’s week seven. My time in PEP is flying and it has been an absolute dream! During my seven weeks, I have engaged in research, workshops and have developed wonderful friendships with my mentors and peers. For some time, I have been fascinated by hydrothermal vents, so to be studying them is a great honor and accomplishment. In the lab, I have been given the opportunity to familiarize myself with vent organisms and to analyze their community composition after a lava eruption on the seafloor. The two vent sites that I am comparing are approximately 5 km away from each other on the East Pacific Rise (mid-oceanic ridge), yet I am finding that the species composition is almost identical between the vents. Not quite, but almost. This has raised a lot of questions for me: How is larvae being dispersed among both sites? Why is it that some species are found at one vent site versus the other? What cues enable these organisms to disperse at specific sites? Are they geological? Chemical? Surely, they can’t just be biological. These fundamental questions continue to draw my interests towards hydrothermal vents.

Apart from research, I have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by curious and enthusiastic students and scientists. Exactly two weeks ago, I participated in a R/V Tioga cruise where I was introduced to the beautiful yet microscopic world of plankton. I left the cruise mesmerized by these organisms and as a result, contacted zooplankton researcher, Nancy Copley (pictured) to ask her if I could spend an afternoon looking at plankton with her. That’s exactly what I did this afternoon. Nancy and I examined plankton samples collected on the SEA Semester boat Corwith Cramer C-216, on 25 April 2008.

Additionally, I was able to use Camera Lucida (device attached to the microscope) which enabled me draw the specimens with great precision. I currently have the Camera Lucida on rental and I am looking forward to drawing the vent organisms I am researching during my down-time! In short, my experience as a PEP student has been miraculous. I have met more hydrothermal vent scientists than I could hope for, all who have been so helpful and passionate about their research!  Woods Hole is truly a wonderful place and I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be part of the exciting science conducted through the Partnership Education Program.I have been presented with wonderful opportunities and have been able to tour the Graduate School of Oceanography in Rhode Island. I am excited to see what the future will hold!

- Deborah

Categories: Woods Hole Partnership Education Program, • Topics: pep  science  life on shore • (0) Comments
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