I take no credit (or blame!) for the name, but it is a great way to get our new students literally and figuratively immersed in their new surroundings. We spend time at the nexus of the San Diego River, Mission Bay, and the Pacific, and with help from USD's Outdoor Adventures, we enjoyed paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, volleyball, and even a quick seine for fishes (all of which were released unharmed). A great Sunday for the Sustainability LLC!
Thanks to the efforts of the Ranger (Thanks Chris!) and knowledgable docents at MTRP, we had a great trip, where we learned a lot about indigenous uses of the land, natural history, and edible plants and animals of the chaparral. No time for a longer post, but some pictures of the event are below.
Off to a fast and fun start here at University of San Diego. First field trip with the Sustainability LLC tomorrow, first lab for Biological Oceanography next week, the exciting Bubble Up black-tie affair for Ocean Discovery Institute tomorrow night....I have been slow about updating the site, but lots of pictures and news on the way!
Lots of fun yesterday down at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. Families got to sample (and learn how to make) some wonderful foods from local fishes; see and hold live local marine seafood (such as urchin and crabs); learn about the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve; play a "fishing for facts" game (very popular); and decorate their own reusable shopping bags with sea life stencils. It was a huge turnout and a perfect day for the event. My thanks to California Sea Grant, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Slow Food Urban San Diego, San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group, University of San Diego, The Port of San Diego, Collaborative Fisheries Research West & the Ocean Protection Council, volunteers from Ocean Discovery Institute, and the wonderful chefs who made this possible!
A family dockside event
August 16, 2014 10am - 1 pm at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
(on the Fish Harbor Pier in San Diego Bay located between Ruocco Park and Seaport Village
Join us to celebrate San Diego's first open air fishermen's market and the people who will make it a success— our very own ﬁshermen, aquafarmers and you, the seafood loving public. There will be kid-friendly tastings of San Diego-sourced seafood and fun educational activities.
Space is limited, please RSVP at: https://ﬁsharentsticks.eventbrite.com!
Brought to you by: California Sea Grant, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Slow Food Urban San Diego, San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group, University of San Diego, The Port of San Diego, and a grant from Collaborative Fisheries Research West & the Ocean Protection Council.
I was fascinated by a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (link), showing that A) male faculty tend to have fewer female graduate students and postdocs than female faculty (not news to most of you in the sciences), and B) "elite male faculty" - that is, those with major career awards, members of the National Academy of Sciences, etc. - trained significantly fewer women compared to other male scientists.
There are many possible explanations for the lack of women in the sciences (some of which I have explored on these pages), but there is no doubt that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. This study suggests yet another mechanism through which the pipeline to faculty positions gets narrowed for female students.
another exciting summer underway (holy crap - 1/2 over!) here in the lab at University of San Diego. I am lucky to have my previous graduate students finishing up their work, another joining the lab (graduate webpage HERE), and three great undergrads in the lab, working on really interesting questions.
Alex Blanco is a McNair Scholar, continuing work in my lab, but his research is taking him in a new direction. Alex is working on an important but little-studied habitat in southern California wetlands - pools in the vegetated marsh. We are trying to better understand their distribution, and figure out if new technology (camera-equipped drones) can help us more cheaply and efficiently map these and other small-scale features in our wetlands. Of course, being Alex, he also pitches in around the lab, helping us with our other studies as well.
Yuri Bejarano also just joined the lab this summer, a transfer student from New York who is part of University of San Diego's Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE) Program. Despite the name, the PURE program, under the direction of our (great) new Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Sonia Zárate, now also takes transfer students, and I was fortunate to have Yuri choose my lab. She is helping me work on Fundulus parvipinnis (shocking, I know!), and is helping us get a better handle on some of the basics - ontogenetic shifts in diet; length-weight relationships; and the stable isotope signatures of females and some of their component tissues (e.g., eggs vs muscle). She is a great addition to the lab, is an amazingly hard worker and bright student, and I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of her labor!
Also in the lab this summer has been Quinn Montgomery. Quinn is on the crew team, was in my Physical Oceanography course, and is a delight to be around. He does not have a particular project he is focusing on (he has other plans for his capstone research), but has been invaluable in the field!
Of course, there has also been some great stuff going on with the Bahía de los Angeles research this summer - more on that soon!
Amazon has launched a new way to support non-profits, and I am hoping that you (all 3 of my blog's readers) might be interested in supporting one very close to me.
If you go to smile.amazon.com, you will be asked to choose a non-profit. The organization you choose will then receive 0.5% of the price of any eligible item you guy. It doesn’t cost anything (other than the time it takes to sign in, and remembering to use the smile.amazon.com link instead of just amazon.com), and it can make a real difference to a nonprofit.
Not surprisingly, my hope would be that you would choose Ocean Discovery Institute as your non-profit, since I have worked with them for 10 years and see the difference they make to the community and sciences broadly. Still, no matter what one you choose, I can’t see a downside to helping out a nonprofit with a donation, when it doesn’t cost anything!
Disclaimer - I am not paid by Ocean Discovery Institute, and get no monetary compensation at all no matter how much anyone donates - I simply think they do astoundingly good and important work, and I have worked with them as much as possible for years.
my heart goes out to the family.
My research student (and co-author!) Alex Blanco was honored with an award from the Council on Undergraduate Research for "outstanding research". We could not be prouder of him - Alex is also a McNair Scholar, a veteran, a dad and husband, a first-generation student, an advocate for underrepresented minority students, and a super nice guy (and that is just the short list). With the support of his phenomenal wife Karla (a grad student herself), he manages to balance all of this while maintaining good humor.
Only ten of these awards were given nationwide this year. Congratulations Alex!
Dr. Colin Fisher (History) and I took a group of students from my Physical Oceanography course and the Sustainability LLC out for a grunion run recently. Apparently, the grunion did not get the memo, but it is tough to complain about a walk on the beach on a warm night in good company. Also, we got to see millions of tiny sand crabs, kelp holdfasts washed ashore, and learned lots about the natural history of our coastal shores.
The "two scientists walk into a bar" event last Thursday was fantastic, both for the scientists and for the public. I only saw my own part of the broader event, but by all reports it was an incredible success, and it certainly was at my location.
Probably the most satisfying part of the evening was the numerous people who a) came specifically for this event, and b) who had no specific questions, but just wanted to learn more about what scientists do and why we love it.
I was also fortunate to have Steve Snyder, the new Executive Director of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, visit our location during the event, and am impressed with his dedication to his adopted city and the effort to interface with the public. We also had a great visit with reporters from the Uptown News.
In short, this was a blast, and I look forward to representing USD at future events (and teaching everyone why Fundulus is the greatest fish around).
There are a few podcasts that I listen to during my (admittedly short) commute or while traveling, and while I generally keep the focus here on science, outreach, and USD, I feel like I should share some of these on occasion, since finding good media to consume is not always easy.
Today I wanted to put in a plug for Sawbones, a podcast that is part of the maximumfun.org network. In it, Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin spend a half hour or so talking about the history of some medical procedure/illness/topic. These have ranged from things like tuberculosis to self-surgery. It is one of those shows that is smart and funny, and once I discovered it I quickly downloaded all of the past episodes.
You can subscribe on iTunes, using your favorite podcatcher, or just go to their site by clicking on the picture above...it is (medical) science with a side of funny.
The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is organizing a really interesting, city-wide event for thursday March 20th. Called "two scientists walk into a bar", they will be putting pairs of scientists (including yours truly) in local pubs, with a sign that says "We are scientists - ask us anything!" The idea is to get the public involved in discussion about science generally, and it promises to be a lot of fun.
For more information, click here.
But I am back, with a vengeance. This promises to be another exciting semester - projects on islands in the Gulf of California; Director of the Sustainability LLC on campus; mapping local wetlands, and enjoying watching my daughter turn 7!
on the border
As part of our continuing exploration of environmental, social, and fiscal implications of sustainability, a group of University of San Diego students used last Saturday to explore the Tijuana River Valley. We started with a visit to Wild Willow farm, a small organic farm operated in the flood plain of the Tijuana river. It was a very interesting visit, and we learned a lot about both how small-scale farming works and the issues related to operating in an area with a lot of migrants crossing.
From there it was off to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, where Chris Peregrine from State Parks talked to us about the challenges and the benefits of operating a wetland reserve where >2/3 of the watershed is in Mexico. We got to go see these important and threatened ecosystems, and had lunch at the Visitor's Center.
Finally, we headed up to Friendship Park, the small park on the border that was closed during construction of the new fence. From there you get a sweeping view of the estuary, as well as parts of Tijuana, making it an ideal spot to discuss some of the social and environmental issues that intertwine here. What made this even better was being able to talk both to Agent Kris Strickland of the Border Patrol and Enrique Morones from Border Angels (a non-profit dedicated to reducing the number of migrant deaths while crossing the border). Each of them clearly view the border issues differently, yet both stressed the need for education and compassion, and it was gratifying to see how much common ground there is when reasonable people discuss even a contentious issue.
In short, we packed a lot of learning and broadening of perspective in a single day, which is what undergraduate education is all about. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this possible!
last weekend a group of our students who are part of the sustainability LLC investigated issues around fisheries, food security, and San Diego. We started the trip with a visit to the docks - once a bustling center of a vast tuna fleet, now a small (but still vibrant) home to local fishers. Last saturday, the docks were loaded with hundreds of lobster traps, as the commercial lobster fishery prepared for the season opening. Our group was met by Pete Halmay, "The Urchin King", who is a key figure in the city's fishing industry. Pete explained how local fisheries can be highly sustainable and ecologically healthy, and made a compelling case for eating locally and smart when it comes to seafood. While we were there we got to visit his boat, Fish Addiction, which not only sells fresh catch of the day every weekend, but supplies many of our local restaurants with live urchin.
We were then given a talk by the other Dr. Talley, who told us about a project she and Adina Batnitzky from USD are working on, trying to (re)connect the City Heights Somali community with fresh, sustainable seafood.
Finally, we went to The Fish Market restaurant, where we enjoyed browsing the selection of local (and not-so-local) seafood, and sat down as a group to a delicious lunch.
The outing was a lot of fun and enlightening (not to mention delicious), thanks to the enthusiasm and hard work of Drs. Fisher, Duraij, our preceptorial assistants, students, and of course Pete!
I had the honor of meeting Al Gore at a recent Ocean Discovery Institute event, and even got the chance to do so with the (incredible) new Dean of University of San Diego's College of Arts and Sciences, Noelle Norton. A wonderful experience, and he is clearly a man who values education, diversity, and the sciences.
Regrettably, I do not have a picture I can put up of myself with Mr. Gore, so instead here I am with one of our Ocean Discovery Institute Ocean Leaders, and you will have to imagine that she is him.