“A guyot is a flat topped sea mount.” This was one of the first things I learned for the NOSB, followed in quick succession by, “Ekman spirals can extend to a depth of 200 meters”, “a seiche is a wave in an enclosed water basin” and countless other facts of great importance, or at least as I saw them. My parents listened politely as I rattled such things off at the dinner table, and to this day my mother knows what a guyot is.
The first time I participated in the NOSB was at the Otter Bowl, my junior year in high school (2002). As soon as we started to play I was in my element; sitting on the edge of my chair, thumb poised to hit that buzzer at lightning speed, interrupting as soon as I could. I loved every minute of it, until we were eliminated. I remember being crushed, not because I cared about winning, but simply because it meant we couldn’t play anymore.
As soon as we got back to school on Monday, I wanted to start studying for the next year. We read everything from textbooks to history books, and made hundreds of flashcards. Our coach, Ms. Melvin, was a role model for us.. She helped us learn whatever we wanted to know. Our team t-shirts said “WWMD” – what would Melvin do. Ms. Melvin is one of the few high school teachers with whom I still keep in touch.
It came time to choose a university not long after my second Otter Bowl, and by that time, I had my heart set on oceanography. I settled on the University of California, San Diego, largely because of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). I applied for a student assistant position at SIO and I soon found myself dissecting fish ten hours a week. I learned as much in lab as I did in most of my classes!
My third year at UCSD I had the most incredible opportunity to participate on an Oceanic research cruise in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica! I loved being on a research boat; science is right there at your fingertips 24/7! Everyone is thinking and talking about the research, and it seems that nothing in the world is more important than the optimal sampling strategy, or the best location for a CTD.
In the fall of 2007, I enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School Of Oceanography. My research uses genetic techniques to study krill diet. The goal is to amplify quantitatively DNA from certain species or phylogenetic groups of krill, and combine this with measures of digestion rate to determine what the krill are eating.
Throughout my time at UCSD I volunteered for the NOSB as an official moderator and a rules judge, and I even coached a team from the local high school. In February 2008, I was a rules judge for the Quahog Bowl. Next year I plan to be a coach again, only this time, a better one.