Science and Communication

This past week has been an exciting one! Earlier in the week, we were interviewed by a reporter from UCLA’s newspaper The Daily Bruin. Check out the article they wrote about us:

http://dailybruin.com/2017/04/28/ucla-students-study-acidification-of-kelp-in-santa-monica-bay/

Our work with Kyle Cavanaugh and one of his students is looking to be very successful. We paired up with him and the UCLA Zodiac team in order to overlay aerial drone footage of the kelp forest with surface CO2 data. Right now, the Zodiac is doing research in the Gulf of Mexico. But when it returns, we will use the CO2 Pro that we helped install to go to our site and gather data. The photo below is shot of the instrument being installed.

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This upcoming Tuesday we have another field day! We expect 2-3 member of our team to wake up bright and early to head down to the port to join members of TBF for a great day of day of data collection (and fun). Also, on May 5th we will be presenting on the preliminary results of our project. Not only will we get to share with our classmates all the great work we have been doing, but we will also have a chance to learn about the other projects that our fellow seniors have been working on. Finally, we are also excited to be taking part in UCLA’s Undergrad Research week, where we will present a poster with our research alongside many other UCLA students.

Our Team Member of the Week: Ariel Pezner

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I am an Environmental Science major with minors in Conservation Biology and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. Growing up in Los Angeles as well as traveling abroad have both contributed to my love of exploring the ocean. At UCLA and through various internships, I have been involved in oceanographic field and lab research, which has allowed me to develop a passion for marine science research. I will be applying my experience and my interest in ocean acidification research this Fall as I begin graduate school to earn my doctorate degree. I am excited to be a part of this project!

Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory (Part 2): Surf and Turf

“Today we spent all day on land learning about the ocean.”

After our eventful evening, we had a relaxing morning and met Kristen at the lab (which we were now very familiar with) at 10:30am. After showing us her office and lab space, we joined up with a group of UC Davis Marine Science students who were also at the lab for the day. We spent a bit of the morning walking around tide pools, learning about the different plants and animals that live there, and observing the ways that the waves interact with the rock. We then moved to the cliffs and learned about the system that pumps sea water in and out of the laboratory. We also discussed various uses for the facility and how students could get involved. It was really great to see younger students, even from a different school,  interested in marine science and excited to learn more. We then met up with one of the grad students, Connor, who showed us a variety of different marine science instruments and explained how they are used. We saw equipment worth thousands of dollars right beside equipment that could be purchased at a grocery store.

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Up next, a lunch break! We headed into town with Kristen to try the new and exciting cuisine of Bodega Bay- this turned into us all grabbing sandwiches at a deli. When we returned to the lab, we continued on the tour, getting introduced to the various grad students working at the lab and their projects. We saw tanks of various marine creatures- urchins, algae, seagrass, mussels, and more. After the tour, we separated from the group and went with Kristen to work in the lab and run some water samples. The four of us worked together and switched off tasks so we could all get experience doing different things. Finally, when all the work was complete, we headed back to the dorms, tired and ready for dinner.

The next morning we packed up the car and headed out of Bodega. As soon as we got on the road, it started raining heavily. All we could think about was how Kristen had shared stories of not being able to leave town due to flooding of all the roads. Eventually, we made it out and started our journey back to LA. The whole trip was a great adventure- We got to spend a lot of quality time together as a group and also got to know Kristen better. We also strengthened our knowledge of our project and the lab work that goes into running our samples. It was so interesting to see the passion of all the people working at this lab and to learn about the various projects that are being conducted.

Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory (Part 1): The Worst Easter Egg Hunt of all Time

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For some reason I thought the drive was going to be 6 hours- it was closer to 9 (with some pit-stops of course). It is safe to say that the four of us who were able to go on this trip got to spend A LOT of quality time together. And by the time we got back to LA we didn’t even hate each other!

The crew: Ariel, Kelli, Jeric, and Rebecca. We left Westwood at just about 11:15am, but not before Kelli had loaded up the car with two large bags of snacks. Unfortunately we hit a bit of traffic leaving LA, but once we got over the Grapevine it was smooth sailing. A few hours later we stopped for a lunch break and then continued the drive up. After passing through parts of the Bay Area we headed into Petaluma on back-roads. It was quite beautiful, with the sun low on the horizon, casting shadows in some places and illuminating others. Cows roamed the hillsides with the occasional barn scattered around. When we finally reached Bodega Bay, I was pleasantly surprised at how large it was. From Kristen’s description I had imagined a barren coastline with nothing but a few houses and one or two restaurants. However, it seemed to me that Bodega was a cute seaside town where many people would like to vacation- we find out later that the 1963 horror film The Birds was shot here (which definitely helped add to the charm…). We stopped at a point down by the water to take some pictures of the sunset and then headed on to find dinner, where our options consisted of fried seafood, fried seafood, and fried seafood.

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I-phones in hand, we navigated our way around the bay, further from the town and closer to our destination. As the sun dipped below the horizon and the sky began to darken we finally reached our destination- The Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory! Kelli had been given somewhat vague instructions on how to reach the dorms so we began following them as best we could. The gate code was successful, and we drove down a long driveway and up to a small group of buildings. Following the instructions, we turned at the “first driveway” and began looking for the “dining halls.” After a bit of looking around we concluded that there were no dining halls- everything around looked very much like a lab. But we definitely were in the right place, because the gate code worked, right? Eventually we solve the next piece of the puzzle- we find a “white box” with our “room key” in it. We proceed to try this key on every single lock to no avail. At this point the sky is black and there is what seems like a pack of deer following our every move. We call the housing manager-no answer. We call Kristen – no answer.

Kristen calls back a few minutes later and we explain the situation (you would really think 4 UCLA students should be able to figure this out). She says we should see a basketball hoop- we see a volleyball court. After some more wandering and a second phone call with Kristen we FINALLY figure out that dorms and the lab are not in the same place at all. I guess our definition of “right next to” is a little different from the housing manager’s. We drive the down the driveway of the lab, out the gate, and down the road a short way to a smaller driveway tucked away in the trees. We use the same gate code to get in and pull up in front of what looks to actually be the dining halls! We find a white box, our keys, and unload all of our stuff. Lucky for us, we have a 16 person room all to ourselves (so naturally we choose the 4 beds that are closest together)! 11 hours after leaving LA, we finally had made it to our beds.

 
Up next, our day at the lab!

 

Spring Planning

Spring break was relaxing but spring quarter is here and we have hit the ground running! We are over halfway done with our project and we could not be more excited for all the interesting things we have left to do. So far, we have been working on sending out thank-you letters to our wonderful donors (check out our donor wall in the previous blog post!) and are planning our underwater selfies. The data team has been extra busy! We recently received preliminary data from the first couple of field days and have begun playing around with it. Also, we spent some time in the Flow Cytometry lab last week in order to analyze our phytoplankton samples – results to come later!

The next couple of months are going to be packed with activity. To start this off, 4 of us are headed up to Bodega this weekend to spend some time at the Bodega Marine Laboratory. We are going to pile into a car Friday morning and do the 6.5 hour drive up to northern California for the weekend! Kristen will be showing us around and having us assist her with some lab work. We will also hopefully get to explore some of the surrounding area and do some hikes. After this trip, we expect to have 2-3 more field days, so look out for updates on those! Finally, we are extremely excited to be expanding our project goals to include an aerial map of the restored kelp forest. We will be working with UCLA Professor Kyle Cavanaugh and the UCLA Zodiac Crew to make this happen.

 

Make sure to check out the UCLA IoES Instagram and TBF Instagram to see a couple shots of us out in the field!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRRrQAaj-qC/?taken-by=uclaioes

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRt6T7lF9l9/?taken-by=thebayfoundation

 

Team Member of the Week: Rebecca Ash

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I am an Environmental Science major minoring in Conservation Biology. I was born and raised just outside of San Francisco, in Marin County. It was here that I fell in love with the ocean and the life it contains- I spent my summers watching Shark Week and then going swimming! At UCLA, I am involved in Chi Omega Sorority, the UCLA Water Ski Team, and I volunteer in an Ecology lab. In the future, I hope to pursue a career that bridges the gap between environmental research and practical social implementations.

Fundraising Goals

We are so happy to announce that we have raised over $5,000 for our project thanks to 52 amazing donors. Thank you so much for you help, we could not have accomplished this without you!

thank you to our donors

Also, this week’s highlighted team member is Candace Chang:

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I am an Environmental Science major with a concentration in Environmental Health because I am compelled to protect the health, beauty, and safety of the natural world. My idyllic weekend consists of attending church services with my family in Cerritos, California, playing Bach preludes on the piano, and taking walks in green spaces where clean, crisp air meets the sound of chirping birds. After graduating from UCLA, I hope to pursue a career that applies science to mitigate deleterious effects imposed upon the environment and the human body.

Field Day Fun: a day in the life

 

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I woke up in darkness- something I’m not used to even though I’m a busy college student. I then proceeded to tip-toe around my apartment, trying not to wake anyone up, grabbing the essentials for a day out on the water – hat, sunglasses, layers, water, sunscreen, layers, food, layers. I packed up, ate breakfast, and by 6:30am the three of us who were able to go were on the road, only making one short stop to grab ice for the samples we would collect later. There wasn’t much talking on the drive- instead we watched as the sun rose slowly, illuminating the busy streets bringing the world into color. Luckily, we were on the other side of traffic, and a short 45 minutes later we arrived at the Southern California Marine Institute.

Here, we met up with Kristen and started getting ready to load the boat. A little later, Armand and Parker, who both work for The Bay Foundation, showed up. With all 6 of us, it was looking like a tight squeeze on the boat- we expertly organized the equipment and stored our bags so they wouldn’t get wet. As we left the harbor, we passed small fishing boats and huge cargo ships. Sea lions popped their heads above water to observe us and even swam behind us for a short while.When we rounded the lighthouse and began to pick up speed, the importance of all the layers I brought became apparent. Not only was it windy, but as we continued north toward our site in Palos Verdes, we were engulfed by fog.

Our first stop was at a location outside of the kelp forest. This is known as our ‘control site.’ The data we collect here will be compared to our data from the kelp forest, so we can evaluate if there are significant differences between the two. Navigating the rolling waves, Armand placed the boat in the perfect position while Parker lowered the anchor. Once we were settled we began the work! First, the CTD (this measures conductivity, temperature, and depth)  was set up and lowered into the water. Kristen lowered it at a steady rate until it reached the seafloor, and then pulled it back up to the boat. Then, we lowered the Niskin bottle to collect water samples. This was done at 4 different depths. We were careful to also be accurately recording the time of each sample. Once the Niskin bottle was brought back up to the surface, we separated the water into three different bottles. One for pH, one for alkalinity, and one for chlorophyll. We also took a small sample to take back to UCLA to analyze phytoplankton. Repeat for each of the 4 depths.

The most time consuming part of the process came next- for each bottle of water reserved for chlorophyll, we took 100ml and filtered it. The filter was then folded up and stored to be taken back to the lab. We did this three times for each depth. We poured exact amounts of water from one container to another, filtered, and folded the filters all as our small boat was being rocked by waves. As Kelli, our project manager, put it, “It’s like trying to fold mini crepes.”

After we did this once at our control site, we moved to our kelp forest location. Then, on the hour, for about 5 hours, we repeated the process above. It’s safe to say this was a huge learning process for the three of us from the team that were there- after watching Kristen, Parker, and Armand go through it once, we jumped right in ready to help. The 6 of us worked seamlessly as a team, with only the occasional slip up, which always led to laughter as someone got splashed by spilled water. And once, in the middle of sampling, a dolphin lazily swam by about 10 feet away.

Throughout the day, the sun tried to break through the fog, but was mostly unsuccessful. Finally around 4pm, the fog cleared and we were greeted with sunshine.

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When we were finished sampling in the kelp forest, we pulled up the anchor and headed back to our control point to measure at that location. This time, we did not drop anchor, but instead did the sampling while Armand kept the boat in the proper location. And then we were finished! Back to the port we went, as the sunlight shone on the land, giving us beautiful views of the coast.

Once we were docked, we unloaded the boat, washed everything down, and headed back to UCLA, where we met up with our adviser, Rob Tripati, to drop off our water samples. We will get in the lab to analyze those after our spring break. By the time we all got home to our separate apartments it was close to 8pm- and I at least still had homework left to do!
Thoughts on the day: It was such a phenomenal learning experience (and very fun)! We were very impressed with the hard work that is required of scientists to collect data. 

Our Mood Matches the LA Weather (80 degrees and sunny)

For the past 2 weeks have been running a fundraising campaign with UCLA Spark. With 44 donors, we are proud to say that we have raised 92% of our $5,000 goal! We will be using these funds to purchase research equipment and to host a community event to discuss our findings.

To donate, please visit: https://spark.ucla.edu/kelp

Thank you so much to our amazing donors, who are helping to make our project a reality!

thank you to our donors

We are also so excited to be finally going on our first field day with The Bay Foundation. We will head out to Palos Verdes tomorrow morning, where we will board a small research vessel. The next 8 hours of the day will be spent measuring seawater chemistry and collecting water samples for our phytoplankton analysis. The weather will be beautiful, so we will be taking lots of pictures. Hopefully we will see some great wildlife too. Check back later this week to read a post about our experience out on the water!

 

Here is Jeric Rosas, our team member of the week:

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I am a fourth year student in the IoES department with a focus in Environmental Engineering. Coming from Los Angeles, I was always curious about the water and air pollution in the county. At UCLA, I have participated in organizations that tackle these issues and assist in providing plausible solutions to these environmental problems. I was a member of Renewable Energy Association and I am currently an officer for ASCE at UCLA’s Environmental Design project. I am certain that this project will help broaden my knowledge in ocean acidification, and I am hopeful that I will utilize my technical background to help propel this project into success.