Post by Juan José Gómez (Colgate '24).
Joining Colgate’s Paleobiology Lab was exciting, not only because it was my first time on the R/V Acadiana at LUMCON, but it was also my first time ever being on a boat! Aboard the research vessel, we traveled hours out into the Gulf of Mexico to gather examples of invertebrate marine life that reside there and also saw dolphins, sea turtles, and surf. Waking up early to leave the dock at 7 am was difficult for me, but what followed during the rest of the day was always something to look forward to. On the days the seas were in our favor, the Paleo Lab team would pass the time collecting sediment samples through a box core, sieving through our samples, and sorting through the living and the dead. The environment of the boat was a lot less intimidating than I had expected. With our Spotify playlist we all helped curate, the time on the boat seemed to fly by as we tried to sieve through the large amounts of silt, clay, and sand. The boat captains and lab staff that helped us were all very welcoming. Everyone made sure that we were content with accommodations everywhere we went, which I appreciated. The people we met at LUMCON and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab provided so much information; we were always learning more and more at each lab we visited.
Working alongside Paul was uncomplicated, and most of the time, fun. His constant “woohoo’s” and “We’re doing it, studes!” eased my mind, making it less stressful to do our work offshore. Though the intense sun and three- to four-foot waves were against us some days, we persisted as much as we could, collecting samples while also being easy on ourselves physically. Some days felt long, but every time I stepped off the boat after coming back to shore, I felt very accomplished and pleased with the work we had done that day.
Even after we had returned to shore, the friendly environment carried through as we spent the evenings putting together puzzles, cooking together, and relaxing after working efficiently on the boat. Having this research opportunity out in the field helped give an experience that was close and personal in many ways, both in the communities in Louisiana and Alabama, and in our very own lab group. Never would I have thought I would be having so much fun playing UNO covered in silt and clay in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.