I find it hard to believe that I’ve been working at Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences for over a month now. The time has glided by noiseless as an albatross – you’ll understand that reference later – and left me feeling simultaneously as though I’ve barely started and as though I have never actually not been here.
I’m back in Corvallis now, after a few weeks at sea on a research vessel out of Honolulu. On the flight into Portland yesterday, my seatmate remarked at one point that “the quality of the work is absolutely and intrinsically decided by the quality of the people you work with,” an observation that perfectly echoes my feelings about being here. The group of people I work for is so completely fantastic that I’d hardly care if I was cleaning toilets so long as I was with them (I am, of course, very happy to be doing oceanography instead).
The lab group I’m working for is focused on phytoplankton research, and my duties on the cruise consisted primarily of filtering a whole lot of seawater from various locations and depths, a circumstance that led to my coronation as “filter queen.” Now that I’m back, I’ll be turning my hand to processing the samples we collected throughout the blue water/green water gradient we traversed on the cruise. It has been, and continues to be, absolutely amazing to have this first-hand experience of working in a real lab setting. I am so conscious of how incredible it is that, as a first year undergrad, I’ve ended up with such a wonderful situation working with such brilliant people.
It’s quite a series of unlikely events that got me here. I didn’t expect to go to Antioch; I didn’t expect to study science; I didn’t expect to go anywhere except Turkey for my first co-op. But somehow, against all my expectations, I landed here, and I genuinely could not be more glad that I did.
(If you’re interested in more of my thoughts and experiences working in oceanography, feel free to check out my personal blog, where I go into a lot more detail about this co-op.)