In about half an hour R/V Melville is docking in port. Ten days went by really fast. I remember walking into this ship for the first time and seeing a lot of unfamiliar faces, now all those people are my friends. I really enjoyed being on the sea and living with a lot of different people specializing in various subjects ranging from engineering, paleontology, and marine science all the way to art. Each person has such an interesting story with very different backgrounds, yet what we all share and what brings us all together is the thirst for adventure, passion for traveling, and willingness to explore and learn about the world around us.
Seeing everyone work so hard has been an inspiration to me, especially my mentor Benjamin Grupe. Each night he would stay up until early morning getting only few hours of sleep. Despite the obvious exhaustion, he would do anything to get the most out of this experience, and despite occasional minor technical failures, he would not get discouraged, always staying positive with a smile on his face. It is also important to give credit to our chief scientist Christina Frieder who performed an outstanding job with overall organization of the cruise, round-the-clock availability, and ability to make wise, important decisions on the spot. She had the most challenging job on this cruise and she fulfilled all the expectations of her position and beyond. It is important to acknowledge all the people who made my experience unique and enjoyable as well as the people who made this cruise possible in terms of organization as well as funding. I feel very honored to be a part of this experience. I had an opportunity to witness, learn, and perform real marine science that will have large-scale applications. This is something that not many students can experience before going to grad school, if even then.
Being able to interact and talk with such a wide variety of people on this cruise helped me make a choice on my educational path for the near future. I am planning on applying to a Master’s Program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which will provide me a wide overview of topics in the marine world. After completing this program I am planning on working in the field of global fisheries. I am planning on focusing on applying science, real data, and conservation strategies in order to promote sustainability. While working, I hope to find a topic that will be interesting enough to me that I will dedicate my Ph.D. degree to it. I am interested in negative anthropogenic impacts, which I hope with enough supporting data will help me make a change in existing policies.
I wish the experience on the research vessel lasted longer, but I also realize that this is only the beginning of my journey of working towards making a difference in this world. Once again, thanks to everyone who made this trip possible, and thank to all of you who read our blogs and supported the goals of this cruise. I hope I will once again have an opportunity to participate in a research cruise because, trust me, you don't have to ask me twice to participate in such an amazing adventure.
-- Blanka Lederer, recent graduate of UC Berkeley