By Kordi Kokott
Kordi Kokott is a biology student who recently graduated from the SRJC with an Associates in biology. She’s moving on to become a student at UC Davis to get her bachelor’s in biotechnology. She was an intern at the Bodega Marine Lab in the summer of 2022 and was mentored by Sara Boles.
This summer, I actually got to work on two different experiments – one where I helped to set up an experiment, and one where I analyzed data. The first experiment was a nutritional analysis – examining how dulce cultivated at different temperatures would affect the growth and health of two different ages of juvenile abalone. The other experiment I worked on was examining the transgenerational effects of ocean acidification on abalone. For this experiment, I came in as it was almost finished and simply did data analysis.
For the first experiment I helped to set it up, since the actual experiment would run much longer than my stay at the BML. Throughout the time that I spent setting up this experiment I learned a lot about the process behind the science. Making an experiment isn’t necessarily a straightforward process, where you simply have an idea and then execute it. Oftentimes, there are twists and turns along the way. We started out using one container, and then switched to another kind that would work better. We didn’t have the right size of mesh at first, so we had to go out and find some. Our small abalone kept dying, so we had to get a new shipment of them so that it wouldn’t present a confounding factor. All of this happened but still, the experiment went on, because we found ways to solve them. I was able to learn how essential the ability to be flexible and innovative is to science, and that kind of hands-on experience is priceless to a budding scientist.
For the second experiment – I had another unique experience: I processed data. Essentially, I examined abalone in photos that had been taken previously and found the area and length of their shell. I didn’t actually do much with this data – my mentor is the one that created figures and the one that did all the real work analyzing it. All I did was draw circles and lines on the screen with a computer mouse. It was boring, tedious, and time consuming - but it was also essential. Examining shell length and size of 495 abalone (yes, I counted) showed me something else about science – it might not always be exciting, but without the somewhat tedious parts, you never can reach any conclusions.
Throughout my summer journey at the Bodega Marine Lab, I got to see all sides of science and research. I got to do hands on work, see an experiment get started, and I got to hold an abalone (which was a pretty cool experience). Overall, my time at the BML was in a word, amazing. I feel like I really contributed to something, and my understanding of the scientific process is much broader than it used to be.
By Nate Bossier
Nate Bossier is 23 years old, born and raised in Novato California. Recent graduate of Santa Rosa Junior College, Nate is transferring to Cal Poly Humboldt and majoring in Freshwater Fishery Biology.
Let me set the scene. It’s 5:30 am in the morning and I’m driving through thick fog blanketing the roads of West Marin. I’m heading to my first fieldwork outing, and thinking “man, I really signed up for this?” This was the beginning of a truly eye opening and fulfilling internship with my mentor and UC Davis PhD student, Priya Shukla.
Her study involved investigating heatwave events and their effect on mass die off events caused by Ostreid herpesvirus (OsHV-1) in Pacific Oysters. The study involved comparing two sets of thermally conditioned oysters to try and withstand marine heatwaves and disease events more effectively. My work involved measuring the growth and mortality of those oysters, which were deployed over three different sites in Tomales Bay. This is why fieldwork was so early in the morning; in order to reach the sample bags during low tide. Every other week we would be out there a couple mornings, looking through the oyster bags and counting the amount of dead oysters. We also collected dying and surviving oysters for future analysis. This was my first ever taste of real fieldwork, as compared to labs in my previous biology classes. Getting knee deep and stuck in the bay mud was a blast, and Priya always had different and interesting volunteers coming out to help as well. Getting hands-on experience, as well as being exposed to people at different stages in their academic journey. This honestly reduced my anxiety of fitting into the science community, as for the first time I got to see how scientists are in fact regular people just like me, with a passion for the natural world around them.
Priya also got me into the lab side of things. I got to dissect (or shuck, if you prefer) oyster samples collected from the field, in preparation for dehydration and future analysis. I also got lots of experience using ImageJ, a program for measuring small and difficult shapes. Though the less fun side of science, I found the lab work to be quite fulfilling, as well as a nice change of pace from being out in the mud. It showed me I do enjoy both sides of the scientific process.
Overall, I can say this internship has further solidified my goal of going into fisheries biology. Getting hands-on experience in the field and lab, as well as expanding my network and being exposed to so many like minded people is an opportunity I will cherish heading into the next stage of my academic journey. Shout out to Priya for making a truly memorable internship experience! Now off I go to Cal Poly Humboldt!
By Zoe Ruffatto
Zoe Ruffatto is a 3rd year SRJC Biology major intending to transfer to a four year university in 2025. She is passionate about learning and wants to pursue a career in some area of biological research.
I never imagined myself doing anything in the marine sciences. Despite growing up near the coast, ever since I saw what my younger self referred to as a ‘monster’ in a river on a camping trip, I have been a bit wary of the water. So how did I end up as an intern in a marine laboratory? It was all part of my quest to, in this case literally, ‘test the waters’ in different areas of biological research. I am a third-year SRJC biology major with the dream of a career that allows for lifelong learning. The way I describe my interests to those who ask is that I am ‘a little too interested in a few too many things’. So, the chance to get my first research experience this summer at Bodega Marine Lab absolutely thrilled me, even though it meant that I might end up having to face my fears a bit.
I spent my summer getting experience in both field and lab work with my mentor Lily McIntire and got to design my very first research project with Lily’s help. My project aimed to begin looking at the reason that crabs blow bubbles when they are removed from the water. Since Lily’s work involves temperature, I was interested to see if they blew bubbles when they got too hot to help them evaporatively cool, which is one of the possible explanations for this phenomenon. Coached by Lily, I designed an experiment with five temperature treatments, each with five grumpy, pinchy participants. The crabs were all held at roughly 100% humidity to reduce the chance that they were blowing bubbles to aerate their gills. I recorded their temperature and whether they were bubbling at 10-minute intervals 7 times for each of five temperature treatments. Lily and I found that although the temperature treatments were statistically different from each other, meaning that variation in bubbling between trials would be due to temperature, not random chance, there was no statistically significant difference in bubbling frequency between treatments. Although these results might seem like a failure, they truly were not. Lily reminded me throughout the experiment, that “no results are still results”. And by the end of the experiment, I really did believe her. Getting to create an experiment and having my own data to analyze helped me see all the ways that my results would be useful in the future. Because of my pilot study, when Lily wants to control bubbling in her future experiments, she would now know that at higher humidity, crabs don't tend to bubble even when heated.
Not only did I get my first lab research experience this summer, but I also got to see first-hand what field research looks like. And no, I did not end up having to face any fears, nor did I see any new ‘monsters’. I felt surprisingly comfortable out in the intertidal with Lily by my side. Before this internship, when I thought of research, I thought of lab work. In my head, research involved sterile environments, Petri dishes, running experiments, and cell cultures; things that involved manipulating something and watching the response. I did not realize the extent to which simply observing and recording data about one’s study species in the field is an integral part of research. When out in the field with Lily, we would start the day with ‘crab walks’ where we would traverse a section of her field site and record the temperatures and habitats of the crabs we saw. We never tried to catch the crabs, we just noted where they were and took an average temperature. The goal was to interact with them as little as possible. Although we were collecting data, it wasn't in the way I had always thought data was gathered: in a lab setting. It was very valuable for me to see how, especially early in a research project, you often do very little to manipulate what you are studying and still end up with important data.
Overall, I think had a very unique internship experience, because not only was I just beginning my research journey, but my mentor was also at an early stage in her project. This meant that I got to see the steps that need to be taken to start a research project and was able to gain an appreciation for how much effort goes into organizing and planning a project. Considering that I see myself in a career that involves research and have an immense passion for learning, this was the perfect introduction to my future. I am leaving this summer experience with my first piece of research under my belt and a fabulous support network of scientists at Bodega Marine Lab. Who knows, maybe I will end up in the marine sciences after all!
By Noemi (Mimi) Chavez
I am an SRJC student transferring to UCSC for Marine Biology in fall of 2022. I was mentored by Sam Walkes and Jacquie Rajerison.
For my internship I was mentored by two amazing individuals. Sam Walkes, a third year PhD student, uses owl limpets to study ecological and evolutionary dynamics in rocky shores. And Jacquie Rajerison, a recent UC Davis graduate with a bachelors in marine science. Jacquie is currently working as a research assistant at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. Prior to this internship I had no real scientific experience, so I was incredibly eager to get myself deep into science. My internship involved working with multiple people on different projects.
From working with Sam, I learned that the owl limpet population had been expanding up the California coast in recent years. Owl limpets typically live in warmer waters in Southern California. Extreme events such as heat waves can cause species to expand their range. For example, the 2013-2016 heatwave called, “the Blob” caused owl limpets to expand their range up North. Years later the climate returned to normal but the population was still increasing. It's possible the owl limpets have evolved new traits in order to thrive in colder waters. To find out why, Sam is studying owl limpet growth rates across the California coast. In the lab I was able to use ImageJ, an image processor to measure the percent coverage of barnacle growth within a meter of an owl limpet. The data will determine whether or not mussel coverage, which differs between Southern and Northern California, affects the growth of owl limpets. I was also able to go tidepooling with Sam and collect data on owl limpet measurements.
This summer I also worked with a UC Davis undergraduate research fellow named Adri Penix. Adri is interested in owl limpet behavior and what effect other grazers have on their territory, since owl limpets live on the same rock their whole lives and are territorial. Adri, Sam, and I hammered small holes into tide pool rocks near owl limpets territories. The holes were filled with a drying putty called Z Spar so the owl limpet could be tagged and later found again.
My second mentor Jacquie is a research assistant to Sam and PhD candidate Emily Longman. Emily is studying what effects predatory snails with different feeding traits have on mussel and barnacle growth. I was able to take part in Emily’s research by helping Jacquie with her lab duties. I learned how to use a special microscope that hooks up to a computer. Using this tool, I took close-up photos of juvenile barnacles. Then I learned how to distinguish between four different species of barnacle, even when they were almost too tiny to see.
From this internship I gained a new perspective of what it means to be a scientist. There are so many types of work a scientist can do and directions a person's career can go. Whether it be going to grad school or becoming a research assistant, all of these options are valid and offer amazing experiences. I also feel I made a support system with my mentors that I feel comfortable reaching out to in the future.
By Abigail Doan
I am a fourth year biology student at SRJC, transferring to SSU. I am interested in studying ecology and evolutionary biology, and I was initially interested in working with BML through this internship to see if research and academia is something I would want to pursue as a career.
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Bodega Marine Lab through the SRJC internship program. I was assigned to work with Alisha Saley of Gaylord lab, and I would love to share a little bit of my experience working with her this summer.
Alisha is a phD candidate at BML, studying shell-building organisms and how they interact with chemical environments. Specifically, she has been looking at shell dissolution caused by a lower ocean pH due to atmospheric carbon dissolving into the ocean. Research has posited that the outermost organic layer of many marine mollusks, called the periostracum, can aid in preventing dissolution. Alisha has been working on projects showing the relationship between periostracum and shell dissolution, so what we did this summer is explore what kinds of abiotic factors can affect periostracum coverage in the coastal mussel species Mytilus californianus.
We hypothesized that abiotic factors that cause the shell to dry out, such as a high tidal height or lots of sun exposure, will have a negative impact on periostracum cover. We conducted a pilot experiment in Marshall gulch, where we collected mussels from multiple tidal heights and multiple degrees of sun exposure. Then we used a program called ImageJ to calculate the percentage of periostracum cover for each group. Our results did confirm our hypothesis, and the lab is hoping to conduct more follow-up experiments for this project in the future.
This summer, Alisha also introduced me to John Harreld, founder of the non-profit organization, SCHUNRS, whose mission is to educate about our maritime cultural heritage through historical research and maritime archaeology. I was tasked by John and Alisha to write a blog post going into detail about the history of one of the local shipwrecks, the Maggie Ross, that met her final resting place up near Jenner. I was provided with a document full of news clippings and statistics about the Maggie Ross’ life, and was meant to turn all of this raw data into something that was captivating and interesting to read. It was very enlightening to be able to take myself back in time and delve into the tumultuous life of this ship.
There is so much more I would say about my experience this summer, but I will end by saying I am so very grateful to be given the opportunity to work with BML and SCHUNRS. Alisha has taught me so much about field work and research that I will be able to take with me into my academic and professional endeavors in the future, and I am honored to have been able to work with so many brilliant individuals.
By Kevin Witt
I was one of the Santa Rosa Junior College interns here at Bodega Marine Labs this summer of 2022. I am just beginning my last year at the JC and will transfer to Sonoma State University in the fall of 2023. I am hoping to continue to UC Davis for postgraduate studies and would be thrilled to receive a position here when the time comes.
Over the summer I worked with Tallulah Winquist in the Gaylord lab studying Bull Kelp. There was a huge kelp die off all along the Pacific seaboard around 2014 due to in large part to two factors: a large marine heat wave, and a huge rise in the number of sea urchins feeding on the kelp. This 90% reduction in the amount of kelp along our shorelines is immensely worrying because kelp and coral (which is having problems of its own) provide habitats for the vast majority of life in the oceans. Surprisingly there has been a small but unexpected resurgence in the amount of kelp along the California and Oregon coast in the last few years. While we are not completely sure of the cause of this resurgence, we are excited to see it and are hoping to find ways to encourage and expand this trend. Most of the work I did over this summer was a pilot study that will be used to inform a larger, more in depth study. We were studying the compound effects of lower salinity and higher temperature on the ability of kelp to reproduce. This a concern, because as the sea temperatures continue to rise, and polar and glacial ice melts, the salinity of the ocean, especially in the regions near the polar ice caps will drop. This particular study is focused on finding the lower end salinity and higher end temperature kelp reproduces at, so a more in depth, longitudinal study can be conducted to find the overall trends of the effects of these factors.
By Benny Mis
Benny is a recent SRJC graduate in Biology and will go on to major Global Disease Biology Major at UC Davis under the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is planning to pursue a career in medical research under a PhD program, and is excited to learn about the science world.
Being a Land Steward is almost like being the camera man for a movie, or stage crew at a concert. The job and duties aren't always in the spotlight but they are highly critical in making a reserve run as it should. It is the job of the land steward to make sure the goals of a reserve are reached, and or maintained. In this internship I got to experience a glimpse of what it is like. I did removal of invasive species completely if possible, slowing the spread on already well established invaders, watering native grasses in the green house for restoration, and helping with experimental methods of removing a specific kind of invader.
I want to talk about my day helping Luis Morales, the land steward at the Bodega Marine Reserve conduct his experiment. Holcus lanatus (Velvet Grass) is a problematic invader at the reserve that is so well established, the mountains around the lab are an ocean of this grass. Removal by hand, at the roots and before it goes to seed is the most efficient way of removing an individual from an area and ensuring that specific individual won't regrow. This is unrealistic when you are dealing with miles and miles of this plant. Luis is working on an experiment to test whether other methods can work in efficient removal of this species. Mowing is a very quick way to remove a large area of grass quickly, but the downside is that the roots will remain in the ground and allow the plant to regrow later on. This experiment is designed to measure if repeated mowings within a year can result in a depletion of the plant's resources to the point that it won't regrow. So we set out to a mow a few plots that have received mowing treatments in order to collect this data. A set of 3 plots are in a block and there are 4 blocks total. One plot has a 1x per year mow, one is 2x and one is none as a control. It took the entire day, but we were able to use string trimmers to mow the designated ones in the same day. I learned to use a string trimmer that day as well which was a great learning experience. Previous data indicated that the frequency of Holcus measured from the plots that received the treatment does indeed appear to be significantly lower than the control. This gives hope that using repeated mowing on large swaths of Holcus can result in a lower amount of this problematic invader. Giving us a chance of actually and realistically being able to get rid of it on the reserve.
By Cassidy Gordon
Cassidy Gordon is graduating with her Associates Degree in Natural Sciences from Santa Rosa Junior College in December and transferring to Sonoma State University to study Marine Biology for the Spring 2023 semester. She assisted PhD student Claire Murphy with her research on the predation of amphipods and isopods in Bodega and Tomales Bays this summer.
Before this internship I knew I wanted to study Marine Biology… but I had no idea what that looked like in real life and I certainly didn’t see a clear path to my goal. Studying in school is one thing, but how do we take the things we learn there and apply them to actual research? How do we get into research in the first place? These questions and so many more plagued me constantly before being accepted into the Bodega Marine Lab Internship program through Santa Rosa Junior College. Now that my summer experience is wrapping up I feel optimistic, driven, and able to see the steps I need to take to reach my destination.
From the first introduction email my mentor Claire was welcoming and enthusiastic. Hearing her explain her research on amphipods and isopods and witnessing her excitement and passion for what she studies was immediately inspiring. During my first week at the lab I got to participate in lab and field work, preparing the little crustaceans to be placed in the bays before tagging along for the actual deployment. Claire tethers four different species that are commonly found in the seagrass in Tomales and Bodega Bays and places them at 6 different sites at low tide. After 24 hours, she returns to collect the tethers and documents how many of each species has been eaten.
As a mini-project to support Claire’s research, I focused on one specific species, Ampithoe lacertosa, determining if the size of the amphipod had any impact on predation rates. To do this, I would measure each amphipod before they were deployed and then measure the remaining amphipods once they were retrieved. We did this for two separate deployments - two weeks apart - and compared the data with the rough hypothesis that if size did matter, the larger amphipods would potentially be eaten more during the second week due to the growth of the local fish over the course of the period. Claire showed me how to use RStudio to analyze the data we had collected by running a t-test and creating graphs to represent our findings. Ultimately, the t-test and the graphs both indicated that size was likely not a factor impacting predation, however the graphs (like figure 1 below) did open the door for further study due to a potential for a “size refuge” as shown by the small blue hump representing the larger retrieved amphipods. A size refuge is an ecological term meaning once an organism reaches a certain size they have an advantage - in this case they are less likely to be eaten.
While I have a feeling no path in academia is straightforward, this internship has provided information, connections, and experience that have laid a foundation for me to move forward confidently. More than ever, I am certain that this is what I want to do and the type of people I want to surround myself with. I highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in scientific research, especially those with a passion for the ocean.
Rising Temperature and its Effect on Intertidal Invertebrates. AKA Hanging Out with a Bunch of Crabs
By Valeria Silva
Valeria Silva was a general Biology major at SRJC. Who will now be transferring to CSU Monterey Bay and majoring in Marine Sciences this upcoming Fall 2022.
This summer, I spent my time with my mentor Lily Mcintire helping her out with her research. We would visit four different sites she had set up on the BML reserve and around Bodega Bay. She is studying the thermal ecology of intertidal organisms with the intent to understand how increasing temperatures from climate change are affecting or will affect how these organisms choose homes and learn to cope. It’s important to understand how ocean animals are handling climate change since they are on the front line. Especially to study intertidal species who are already living in such high variability and harsh environments. To do this analysis Lily and I would go out into the field and do crab and snail surveys. We would measure body, air, substrate temp, and other abiotic factors that all affect the invertebrates' temperatures.
The reason I chose to do the BML internship was that I had heard a lot of good things from both professors and peers alike. For three years, I studied at the SRJC to pursue a career as a Veterinarian, but at the last minute, I figured it wasn’t for me. It was disheartening, but I quickly found something new. The main reason I got into marine science is thanks to Professor Shawn Brumbaugh. While taking his class, I began to research different topics and I concluded that I was very interested in coral reefs and the adverse effects of climate change on the ocean. He noticed my interest and informed me about the BML internship. Since then, I have done a complete 180, and I am excited to dive into marine biology.
I had a lot of fun and got to experience the beauty of nature every day. My favorite parts were honestly the hardest ones. Although it was very difficult to drive a long distance so early in the morning, it was fun being the first to the lab. I also got great advice from Lily that has better informed some of my future career choices and decisions. Overall she was a great academic fountain of knowledge who was willing to honestly talk about her experiences. She also showed me how much work and dedication it takes to do worthwhile research. This has been an incredible experience, and I gained so many skills that I will continue to build on.
By Kevin Sanchez
Kevin Sanchez is a SRJC biology student interested in all things involving science.
.Greetings reader, my name is Kevin Sanchez and I am a SRJC biology student interested in all things involving science. I have always had a great love of science and this summer I was able to work on the Bodega Marine Reserve with my amazing mentor Luis Morales, a PhD student studying ecology.
This summer exceeded my expectations and was without a doubt a memorable experience for the many opportunities available. Arriving on the first day I was nervous while simultaneously filled with a rush of excitement to learn more. I met Luis shortly after who I found would speak passionately about what he does on the reserve as a steward. A large portion of what Luis does is managing invasive species found on the reserve. This short introduction was followed by a very methodical plan to begin removing a perennial invasive species Holcus Lanatus (H. Lanatus). A plan was established based on several factors minimizing disturbance of other native species, careful consideration to the plants life cycle and a method that was most efficient. Once out in the field I saw velvet panicles shimmering under the sunlight that is best described as a sea of H. Lanatus. While manually pulling out the invasive species we got the chance to record data as well as map our findings to track its growth. Due to being classified as a perennial species this plant can resprout from the basal shoots further only temporarily solving the issue. This is a drawback, but it is a consideration that needs to be factored into every approach made to manage an invasive species. This is just one of the several invasive species that we had to manage which made me curious about what other methods we could approach given the potential negative and positive outcomes.
Furthermore, after gaining more experience I was able to individually work on removing a different invasive species Briza Maxima (B. Maxima). Unlike H. Lanatus, B. Maxima is an annual plant that dies in one season, but its removal is still important to be done before seed drop. Thus, B. Maxima is just as important because it is well known to disturb native species by competing for nutrients.The best method to manage this species is mechanical and chemical such as use of herbicides yielding a recorded efficacy to be >95%. Though this is effective there are still other methods which I would enjoy to explore including biological control and different use of herbicides. There is very little research that has been made in biological control because it can disturb other desired species, however B. Maxima is not just an issue that affects our reserve; it has been recorded in New Zealand, Japan, Honduras, Guatemala, Hawaii, Chile and Colombia. Perhaps investing more time in biological control can prove to be an effective method for the different landscapes found in these other areas. Regardless of that it will take some of the mystery out of what could have occurred if we do not test its capacity.
As a final note, it is clear to me that what may appear like a small change is in reality a mountainous impact when it comes to the ecosystem. Bodega Marine reserve was no walk in the park, but through these challenges it gave me a deep appreciation for the work it takes to maintain our native species. I am looking forward to working on similar projects or any science projects where people are passionate in what they do as I continue my educational journey.
Special thanks to the BMR and BML team for guiding us and exposing us to new opportunities, including Keira Monuki, Isabelle Neylan, Luis Morales and Collin Gross my deepest gratitude.