July 17-18, 2008
Greetings from the Bay area! After a missed morning flight and a delay in Denver I finally made it to San Francisco to begin my research experience. At the airport I met up with my partner, fellow ARMADA teacher, Daphne Rawlinson. She is a fourth grade teacher from Houston, Texas. Our research facilitator, Dr. Joe Sisneros, and his undergraduate assistant, Andrew, picked us up from the airport and we toured the city. We had lunch in Chinatown and then we were our way up to the Bodega Marine Lab and housing area. The marine lab is located about an hour north of San Francisco. As we approached the coast the weather changed from hot and sunny inland to foggy and cool in Bodega Bay. Once we got to the dorm area we settled into our rooms and later we walked around the dorm grounds. On Saturday morning Daphne and I spent the day exploring the area and meeting some of the other members of Dr. Sisneros' team. Later in the day, Dr. Joe and Andrew took us around the marine lab and showed us where we would be working with him and Andrew. The marine lab is about a mile from the dorm housing and it is a protected nature reserve. It is a large facility located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There were other University of California-Davis students working there on their research projects. We got to meet a variety of other scientists who were working there at the marine lab. Dr. Joe showed us where we would be assisting him with the experiments. Outside on one side of the facility there were gigantic salt water tanks that were used for the experiments. Dr. Sisneros is working on the vocal localizations of the male midshipmen fish and how it relates to the sensitivity levels in the hearing of the female midshipmen fish. Dr. Sisneros showed us pictures of the fish that we would be working with and they resembled giant tadpoles. They have big heads and sleek, thin tails. The embryos look like rather cute aliens. That night Daphne and I went back to the marine station to observe Andrew working on his experiment with the fish. He was testing some male specimens on their reaction to a variety of sounds. He was presenting the fish with other male grunting, growling, and static sounds and recording on video the reaction of each fish. Since the mating sequence happens at night in the intertidal zone of the ocean, he began his experiment after nightfall around 9:00 p.m.. He then set up all of his equipment: red lights, video camera, audio recorders, speakers, and computers. Daphne and I helped observe the experiments while working in the dark, cold night wearing our head lanterns and warm jackets. The temperature at night in Bodega gets down to about 50 degrees F and the fog mist is very intense. Since we were out there for a couple of hours helping Andrew I did get a little cold and every once in a while I would have to go back into the lab to warm up. Andrew was very excited that he was given this opportunity to work with Dr. Sisneros and to be able to design and implement his own research experiment.