Post by Alexa Russo (Colgate '25)
My time in the Gulf was extremely valuable; from getting to see all the specimens - both ones we study and ones we don’t - up close and personal, to getting to have conversations with crew members, other students, interns, and scientists. While we primarily study marine bivalves (clams) in the Paleo Lab, we can’t control what gets picked up by the box core on the seafloor when we are sampling, which leads to us seeing so many cool critters like crabs, worms, sea stars, and even eels. I was able to learn so much over the course of three weeks, and I really enjoyed hearing about everyone’s interests and specialties, and learning about all the different career paths there are, and all the different fields of study that exist within the marine sciences. I especially enjoyed talking with two scientific scuba divers who helped us collect samples; I had never really thought about how useful scuba diving can be for scientific studies, and we talked about the process of getting certified to dive for scientific purposes.
While I personally don’t see myself being a marine scientist in the future as I am more interested in terrestrial paleontology for my future career, the skills I learned from being in the field will be extremely useful in the future regardless of the path I choose to take. I learned new field techniques, ways to collaborate with other scientists, and how scientists may come up with new projects or questions they want to answer. Additionally, I learned a lot about the importance of organization and labeling, even when you’re covered in mud on the back of a boat. After all, if we don’t know exactly where a sample came from, the data we get from it won’t tell us much, especially when we are studying the impact of environmental conditions on marine life. Overall, my experiences in the field will stick with me and be a benefit to my future, and I hope to apply the field skills I learned in the near future.