On Grad School and Saving our Reefs!

It has been a tragically lengthy amount of time since I’ve posted, but not without good reason. I’ve been applying to graduate programs! 🙂

Well, technically I haven’t applied to a single school yet haha BUT I’ve been writing a ridiculous amount of essays for grant proposals! There are two huge pre-doctoral grants that I’ve applied to, one from NSF and one from NOAA, and they both involved long and torturous application processes. SO cross yo fingaaaas! I find out in May whether I’ll be a funded grad student or not 😉

But one SUPER cool thing I wanted to share with you all has to do with the research I’m planning to conduct in the next few years. (Hopefully) we all know that our oceans are IMMENSELY important to the health of our planet, not only environmentally (providing climate stability, storing excess CO2, full of a ton of unique ecosystems and crazy cool critters), but also economically. Last year, CORAL REEFS ALONE were estimated to provide over US$ 30 billion in goods and services to world economies, through fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection (uhh, Hurricane Sandy, anyone?? We could definitely have used a nice litte coral reef off the Jersey shore to break up all that wave action…) So if coral reefs alone provide all that, what about the high seas, the Arctic circle, the mangrove forests, the deep ocean? That’s a lottt of money coming into the global economy. Couple that with the massive importance of oceans to our planet’s general health, and it’s pretty obvious. We need to start taking care of our oceans better, and inspiring people everywhere to care! There are actually a ton of amazng NGO’s and non-profits out there doing just that, reaching out and connecting science to the public to raise awareness for the plight of our oceans, it’s extremely inspiring and uplifting. I try to take an optimistic approach to the whole climate change/end of the world projections, because I’d like to believe that we won’t let our planet die without putting up a good fight!

SOO, as a major ocean advocate myself, I’m hoping to pursue a graduate degree in Marine Conservation. I will hopefully end up at Columbia University in the fall, where I’ll be working with Dr. Josh Drew to investigate the phylogeography of certain coral reef fish. Ahh, big word! Basically it means I’ll be checking out how genetically related fish from one area of the ocean are to fish from a different area. This actually has a whole slew of conservation applications, because it’s really important to know how connected two populations are if you’re going to try to make management decisions about a specific area. The idea is, whatever you do to one area could very well be affecting another area down the road, or even across the fricken ocean on a different island! So I’m looking to get into that crazy world of genetics and use my findings to help make effective, informed management decisions. I’m pretty excited!

Here’s a little video by Dr. Drew introducing some local, traditional forms of management already in place in Fiji! (Fijians are pretty on top of it with preserving their reefs)

Have a great day everyone! More later!

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9 comments on “On Grad School and Saving our Reefs!

      • Are you seeing enough marine biology on WP? Perhaps you are – we’ve only e-known each other about 5 minutes! – but if you want to find more maritime blogs you might like to search my ‘Other blogs to follow’ list. There’s a link to it on my blog’s sidebar.

        Me, I’m a landlubber but I’m learning about marine biology from WP blogs. It will be great to read yours.

  1. Glad that the NOAA thing worked out all right after all!

    For this sort of research, will you be out scuba-ing and collecting fish yourself (…that sounds awesome: “Oh, I just have to visit and swim around in coral reefs all over the world, it’s my job”) or will you be more on the lab work side?

    • Scuba-ing AND lab work! 😀 I’ll be collecting my fish from Fiji and hopefully American Samoa (that’s where the NOAA grant comes in) during the summers, and doing all the genetic work during the academic year back in the States. Any excuse to dive, I’m there! Although lab work can be peaceful in its monotony sometimes…

      Is your research more field or lab oriented? Which do you enjoy more? I think they both have their own suite of pros and cons, it’s interesting to hear different people’s perspectives!

      • That sounds perfect! That’s pretty much my schedule too – out in the field in spring/summer, lab work/analysis in fall/winter. I like being able to pause and evaluate my field methods between seasons.

        Hard to say which I like better. I’m in this for the chance to interact with the animals, so by that perspective, field work is really the reason I’m here – but it’s also kind of lonely and you miss non-camping food and have to worry about nests getting predated and so forth. Lab work lets you live in your own apartment and occasionally see your boyfriend, which is nice. And lab work can definitely be peaceful, although I used to think it was more peaceful before I was using my own grant money for it and knew how much it costs…

      • Yeah, after a few months of field work in Fiji I reeeeally started to miss hot showers and normal food. Although the reef was 10 feet away from our station and the ocean was like bathwater! So it’s really just a trade-off in my opinion. Hopefully I’ll be heading to New York City for grad school, so coming back to an amazing city will make the field/lab rotation even more fantastic.
        Looking forward to hearing more about your work!

  2. ROCK ON ERIN! When I was looking at Grad Schools, I also was interested in getting my Masters in Marine Conservation. Maybe one day… I’m excited to hear all about your adventures though! Keep up the good work 🙂

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