Research Buffet

Ok, so it is half way through the summer already and I have yet to post anything. I’ve been SUPER busy. Unfortunately, field work in the USVI didn’t happen because of permitting issues. Permit requirements are great for protecting the corals on the reef, but also a huge pain to work around when trying to do science on endangered species (most coral species). I arrived in Sarasota on June 14th, a whole two weeks earlier than I had originally planned. Since then, I have re-organized the data for my project (scoured through 4 different external hard drives for all of the files I needed), identified colonies of my species of interest and diseased colonies in 10 new sites (looked at pictures of coral until my eyes bled ),  merged the rows into sites (completed coral jigsaw puzzles), and helped with all of the other intern’s projects (took breaks from staring at my computer screen). My research can be extremely tedious and mind-numbing at times, BUT I love how it combines into a big picture conclusion in the end. And don’t let me fool you, I actually like working through all the computer work, but If I tell everybody that I like looking at thousands of pictures of coral, then they might start to think I’m crazy.

One of my favorite parts about my research is that it gives me the freedom and time  help everyone else with their own projects. There are three REU students in the Mote coral lab right now, and I get to help with everything from plumbing to pH measurements to microbiology lab work. I am currently on Summerland Key for a week at the Mote Tropical Research Lab helping with Dr. Muller’s new project on black band disease.

I feel like I am at a sort of “research buffet” where I get to sample a bit of everything and then come back to my project as the “main course.” Next post, I will go a bit more in depth on the process behind my work and share some pictures from my work here in the Keys.


  1. mkbentley says:

    Sara, that sounds really fun and interesting! I’m sorry that your initial plan did not work out but it looks like you’re making the best of it. In my research this summer, I had very little time to do anything outside of that research, so I think it’s wonderful that you get to speak with so many other researchers about their projects at the same time. Good luck and hopefully I’ll come back around to see what you’re up to next week!