Fueled by the Chocolate

posted Jul 9, 2012, 5:15 PM by Shannon Bresnahan   [ updated Jul 10, 2012, 9:46 AM ]
The food on the ship is great, the cooks are doing an outstanding job of feeding us high quality diverse meals. Endless supplies of candy, snacks, and juices are always available in the kitchen. Boxes with M&Ms, Reeses, Milkyways, and many other candies are refilled daily. Even our chief scientist keeps a drawer of nuts, dried fruits, and big chocolate bars of different flavors in her desk full at all times. We are very well taken care of and I am not sure when the next time is that I will be able to have so many different options of delicious food available since after this cruise I will go back to the student lifestyle. This means for the next couple of months I will be preparing packaged microwave meals, canned beans, simply prepared vegetables, and attending occasional meetings and talks on campus where free food will be served for lunch as a bait for people to attend.

Despite the fact that we are being truly spoiled, it is true that comfort food is necessary for all the hard work everyone has been doing. There is always someone in the lab working, and usually there are people on the deck either deploying CTD, taking mud samples from the multicorer, or simply hanging out enjoying the view of beautiful ocean with the view of San Diego in the background. For the past two days, the deck has been mostly occupied by the people fixing the otter trawl net which I am glad to announce has been successfully fixed and used and then fixed again, and is ready to use tonight at 3 a.m. Last night we stayed up late sampling for the benthic organisms. Every time we deployed our net, we got something new. Last night we caught a midshipmen fish that had an amazing golden design made out of fluorescent chromatophores on its belly. I am very excited to sample the deep ocean tonight for the last time on this cruise. There are only a couple more days left and since I have been so busy with various activities and excitement it almost feels like time does not exist. I care about time only when I am about to go to bed and I realize that I have to wake up just in few hours for my shift. I rarely know what day of the week or date it is which feels good because as they say in Poland “Happy people don't worry about time.”

Photo: Blanka helps mend the otter trawl in preparation for its next deployment.

Photo: Working with the specimens collected from the otter trawl has been one of
Blanka's favorite research activities on the San Diego Coastal Expedition.

I enjoy having different projects going on around me because that allows me to participate in different research projects at different times and my activities do not get monotonous. Also, working with different people feels refreshing and I really enjoy working with and getting to know many different people on this cruise. Every team has different objectives and every group leader has a different style, which allows me to see a wide spectrum of research strategies. Judging what works and what doesn't shapes my own ideas and style as a scientist. Watching graduate students working on their projects is making me pick up good habits such as being patient and detailed-oriented, which will definitely help me avoid fundamental errors in the future when I decide to conduct my own research.

The availability of different research  also gives me an idea of what I am more interested in, simply judging by the level of energy and excitement I reach while doing certain activities. Otter trawl and plankton trawl are definitely on the top of my list of things I feel most passionate about, which will definitely help me shape my career path.

--Blanka Lederer, recent graduate of UC Berkeley