From May to July I’ll be in Savannah, Georgia, participating in a National Science Foundation REU program at Savannah State University (SSU). REU stands for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and the program is designed to give students research experience, and allow them to see what a career in science research entails. It’s ten students from different colleges, and a bunch of Savannah State faculty, and we spend seven weeks learning and doing work. The program I’m doing is for marine science, and I absolutely love it so far!
The marine science facilities are amazing; there’s a small research lab located right on the college campus, bordering a huge salt marsh. There is a small dock running down the salt marsh to the water, which eventually leads out to the coast. There are beautiful live oaks with Spanish moss, palm trees, and beautiful white birds.
I can’t believe I get to spend seven weeks in such a gorgeous place!
The first full day, Tuesday, we toured the marine science facilities at Savannah State, and got to know more about the program, each other, and what we would be doing. On Wednesday we got to learn about the different projects being done at Savannah State—which include everything from turtle, shrimp, and dolphin research to cloning—and then we went to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography for a picnic lunch and a tour of the facilities. We got to hear about some of the projects being done at the institute, and listen to a visiting professor talk about his work with sedimentation. When we got back to SSU we got to go down to the dock to practice “casting” into the salt marsh with a net at low tide. We managed to catch a few little squid, a few crabs, and a ton of shrimp and fish!
On Thursday we left early to take a small boat to Wassaw Island, part of a National Wildlife Refugee. There are no structures or buildings on the island, and you can only reach it by boat.
We spent the morning combing the beach—there were tons of sand dollars, beautiful shells, horse shoe crabs, and a massive number of sea stars and jellies! It was absolutely incredible, and the boat ride there and back, through the salt marshes, was really fun.
On Friday we spent a lot of the day learning about working aboard a large research vessel, and in the afternoon some of the REU students headed to the Tybee Island Beach Bum Parade. The parade is an “island wide water fight”, and everyone lines up along the main road with water guns, buckets, and hoses, and it’s all out warfare. When the parade starts, fancy (and not so fancy) floats go by, and the people on the floats spray everyone with water, which the people on the street spray the people on the floats. It was so, so much fun, and absolutely crazy wet! I wish I had gotten pictures of the event, but it was absolutely crazy, and a bit wet for my camera!
On Saturday I headed out with three other undergraduates and two graduate students on a small boat, the Tiger II, to do dolphin research for SSU’s Dolphin Science lab. We left at eight A.M. and were out on the water until four. We spent the time looking for dolphins and recording their interactions when we did see them, and we took pictures of their dorsal fins to try to build up a database to identify them with. It was really fun, and we even got to take a fifteen minute swim break towards the end!
What fun things are y'all up to this summer?