Showing posts from August, 2012

Preparing the next generation

One of the great joys of science, in my view, is teaching others about science, how it works, and why it is arguably the most advanced type of problem solving ever invented by humans. As graduate students at FIU we are given ample opportunities to pass along our knowledge, expertise, and love of science to the next generation of scientists (undergraduates) through teaching classes, giving public lectures, and directly mentoring individual students. At last count FIU had about 40,000 undergraduates enrolled, so finding motivated students to help out with graduate research is a relatively easy task.

I'm in Minnesota, oh ya!

Greetings from St. Paul, Minnesota!  I have left the sweltering heat of south Florida for a few days to attend the American Fisheries Society Conference.  Attending conferences is a must-do for graduate students.  It's a chance to share your research with a large, scientific audience, get feedback from the top scientists in your field, and make connections (and new friends) along the way.  These meetings can be a bit overwhelming so I've generated some tips to help you get through them:

When is accomplishing nothing, more than just accomplishing nothing?

Good afternoon everyone! I hope everyone had a good summer! For us, school is beginning, once again FIU has become a large traffic jam.  And as I was sitting in my car waiting to leave FIU, I came up with this blog idea. When is accomplishing nothing, more than just accomplishing nothing? 

Fish go to school, too

Greetings from the confines of my office!  I have not posted in over a month but lucky for you, the other bloggers have kept you entertained with Alligator vomit, post-quals stress disorder and the joys of working with carcinogens, flammable materials and high-voltage equipment.  If those don't make you want to be a graduate student and/or scientist, then I don't know what will!
So what have I been doing?  A whole lot of non-exciting blogging material like processing DIDSON videos, analyzing data, and preparing for conferences.  The good news is now I have some results to share!  

Grad Student Life Beyond Fieldwork: Part 4 (Our Labs)

Today’s post is the last installment of my series “Grad Student Life Beyond Fieldwork.” Take a look at Part 1 (Classes), Part 2 (Teaching) and Part 3 (Our Offices) to read about other facets of grad student life. Part 4, the post you are reading now, is about the labs where we produce and analyze data.

Reflections on the Qualifying/Comprehensive Exams

The first half of this year was a pretty tough time for me. I was preparing to take my qualifying/comprehensive exams, also known as 'Quals'. For the FIU PhD student, these are the exams you must pass in order to become a PhD candidate, which is the point you prove your worthiness/ability to finish and get the okay to continue with your graduate program. At FIU's Biology department, the exams usually consist of 1 day of written responses to questions from each of your committee members (that means 5 straight days of writing) and, about 2 weeks later, a 2-3 hour oral exam with your whole committee. The format can vary based on committee members' preferences or department rules. You receive the official title of PhD candidate once you defend your dissertation proposal, after the exams are over.

Florida Bay: Beneath the Surface

Florida Bay consists of mud banks so intertwined it takes an experienced boater (or a great GPS chart tracker, if you’re me) to successfully navigate across the bay.Because flow is somewhat restricted by these mud banks, the basins have developed into unique habitats making each dive of the FCE-LTER seagrass sampling project quite different.At each of the LTER sites within Florida Bay, we estimate percent cover of all seagrass species and many calcareous green algal species, as well as red, brown, and other green algae.We monitor water quality over time via nutrient analyses in seagrass and calcareous green algal tissue, and we collect data on salinity, temperature, light penetration, and water turbidity.Data are located at