September 30, 2007 3:37 PM

So what are you doing in French Polynesia, anyway?

From the past couple of entries, one might assume that I flew an island in the middle of the Pacific to go on a semester-long vacation. This just isn't the case.

We're 22 students, working on our own personal research projects. Diatoms, octopus, fish, crabs, ethnobotany, invasive plants, skinks, micro snails... everyone has their own project. We go out into the field in pairs and help each other collect data and samples, learning statistical methods to apply while doing field research, and learning how to write a proper publishable scientific paper.

It's a rush of a time, with a few hours here and there of fun, mixed in with a lot of searching for applicable references, figuring out our model organisms, understanding dispersal, learning about habitat, and so on.

It's a great experience, but not for the faint of heart.

Several of the students say that the Field Lab section of Bio 1B has prepared them for this research. Other students were boyscouts, girl scouts, divemasters, lifeguards, worked for environmental firms, and so on. A diverse group of students, with fascinating backgrounds - scientists at heart, trying to make sense of their natural surroundings.

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