Harvard Horizons: My 6:38 minutes of fame!

I recently gave this short talk as a part of the second annual Harvard Horizons symposium. The application process involved a written and video submission followed by presenting a 5 minute talk to the selection committee during an interview. 8 of us were selected to represent the breadth and depth of graduate student research in Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You can read profiles of all 8 Horizons Scholars here.

In preparation for the symposium we worked with various people from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. We were luck to be able to work on content, visuals, physical and vocal presence with different coaches and receive lots of feedback on our talks in the process. I learned a huge amount about myself as a speaker and presenter.

The best part of the whole process was getting to know the other scholars and discussing our work as an incredibly diverse group. It is a real treat to step outside your discipline and hear a totally different perspective on your research as well as think about other's work that is so different from your own! On the whole it was a wonderful experience and I feel very lucky to have been able to be a part of it.

A successful Alvin science verification cruise!

Alvin from behind during retrieval after a successful dive. The sub is hanging in the A-frame of the R/V Atlantis, its home ship.

Alvin from behind during retrieval after a successful dive. The sub is hanging in the A-frame of the R/V Atlantis, its home ship.

As you may have noticed, I wasn't able to post anything here while I was at sea. I couldn't connect my computer to the internet and when I tried to use the ship's computers squarespace (where this blog is hosted) wasn't accessible. My apologies.

Hopefully if you were hoping for updates on the newly renovated Alvin sub you were keeping tabs on the official cruise website. There is lots of great content on that site including a slideshow of what it looks like in the sub, a video showing how the sub gets prepped to dive each morning, a post about how new lighting and cameras are enabling better seafloor footage, and an audio description of what this cruise was about and why it was important. It was great to be out at sea with professional outreach folks. I think the quality and diversity of media on the official cruise site show what that can result in.

My main goal was to organize and facilitate a skype class with a group of about 50 students from Cambridge Ringe and Latin School as part of a new Marine Science Internship Program at Harvard. You can read about how that went and see a couple of pictures here. I was thrilled that the skype communications held up for the whole hour, and even more excited to hear that the students were inspired by what they heard. It was definitely fun to be able to answer student's questions, live, from sea.

On a personal level, I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in this cruise. I wasn't able to dive, but I was able to get inside the sub and see what it's like with two new viewports and lots of extra space - so cool! I was also able to watch very experienced scientists and engineers trouble shoot and tweak minor things on the new sub. I learned a lot from that about both working with Alvin and doing science at sea in general. I learned a lot about the aspects of sub operations that you usually don't think about when you head out for a research cruise with a well tested and polished vehicle. I met lots of great people and reconnected with some old friends from a previous cruise. All in all it was a great week. I'd love to answer any questions in the comments below.

There is so much history associated with this amazing little sub (if you can call anything that weights 40,000 pounds little) I am proud to have been present for the beginning of this new chapter.


Heading to sea again!

This Friday I head out to the Gulf of Mexico to participate in the Science Verification Cruise for the newly renovated Alvin submersible. The famous sub has recently undergone a massive rebuild, and undergone all required safety tests. So, now the scientists get to test out all the new and improved capabilities: manipulator arms with more maneuverability, greater visibility, better cameras, more internal space... just to name a few. The cruise has already started and you can read all about what they are up to here on the official site. I will be taking a large, fast catamaran from Gulf Port, Louisiana out to meet the R/V Atlantis for the second leg of the cruise. My main reason for going is to help my advisor, who is the Chief Scientist for this cruise, with education/outreach efforts. How fun to be able to go out to sea and not have to worry about my own experiments! I plan to post some updates both here and on the official website, so stay tuned! 



Exciting News

I was recently selected to be one of this year's 8 Harvard Horizons Scholars! This means I will be giving a short talk in Sanders Theater on April 22. It will be video taped, so I'll be able to post the video here eventually. It also means I will get the opportunity to participate workshops to improve my public speaking and make the content of my presentation as powerful as possible. All of the other Horizon's Scholars are doing incredibly exciting research. I am honored to be among them! 

You can read the official announcement here. (http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/news/announcing-the-inaugural-horizon-scholars-2.php )

Interested in Alien Worlds on Earth?

It looks like the course website I created for my "Alien Worlds on Earth" mini-course is not globally viewable like I hoped it would be. The course went well, and I do hope to do something more with it in the future. In the mean time, I wanted to share some of the resources I gathered to share with students who wanted to know more about the environments we were talking about in class. I hope these are interesting and useful... let me know if they are!

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