My summer experience at HMSC was one of the most rewarding of my science career. I worked with John Chapman and Brett Dumbauld studying the mud shrimp Upogebia pugettensis in Pacific Northwest estuaries. U. pugettensis is extremely important to many estuarine biological and chemical processes. They are experiencing severe population declines, coinciding with heavy infestations of an introduced isopod parasite. Little was known about these species, so my research involved going onto the mudflats at low tide (sometimes at 5 in the morning) and collecting shrimp for measurements. Eventually over 1700 shrimp from 21 different sites were collected and measured! We found very interesting trends, including that host size is the determinant factor in vulnerability to infestation (bigger hosts are more infested), and female shrimp seem to grow into vulnerable sizes faster than males. I had the opportunity to present this research at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference in September, and I will also be presenting at the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) conference in February.
Not only was this internship a great scientific opportunity in which I gained a number of new research skills, but over the ten weeks I met some amazing people, made many new friends and did some incredible things, such as an awesome trip to Mt. Rainier. Overall, I would say this experience was one of the best in my life, and I have many memories, experiences, and skills I will remember forever.