Student Testimonial: UC San Diego Research ScholarsPosted October 24, 2022, 2:00 pm by
Spencer Foss - UC San Diego Research Scholars (Marine Biology)
Why Did You Choose to Participate In This Program?
I chose to participate in UC San Diego Research Scholars: Marine Biology because I have been a part of other Marine Biology programs and lectures at Birch Aquarium, and wanted to continue my studies. I have a passion for Marine Biology and UCSD is an excellent place due to its field research at Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO). The ocean is a key part of this world, and I feel especially connected to it and its inhabitants. This program gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into marine organisms and discuss environmental impacts.
How Did You Decide Which Program Was Right For You?
I was looking for programs to participate in during my school breaks to further my education on a topic I was interested in, which led me to the UCSD website. I was looking through the academics page and found the UCSD Extension department. I had visited the UCSD campus for a lecture at Scripps when I was younger and thought that participating in their Marine Biology programs would be fantastic. I looked at the catalog and chose a course involving coral, as I knew it was an important ecosystem whose existence is currently threatened by climate change. After participating in the course, I immediately wanted to enroll in others, as I discovered a community of people who shared an interest in my beloved marine world.
What Was A Typical Day In Your Program?
During the course of the pandemic, I took two online classes on Marine Biodiversity. I would join Zoom meetings for the synchronous/in-class work, by using the platform, inkwire, to complete homework assignments. In the Zoom meetings, I would learn about the topic for the day with a guided lesson via Canva or on an interactive platform called Decktoys. The Canva slides would allow us to take notes easily while listening to lectures and Decktoys lessons provided a framework for engaging in classwork.
Credit: UC San Diego
Specifically, Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation covered the ecosystem of coral reefs, including an in depth look at coral’s unique organismal biology. This course focused on understanding symbiotic interactions while discussing how to increase awareness for important climate change related topics. Life on the Edge was a course that examined a local biome — the rocky intertidal. We not only covered the extreme conditions and the inhabitant’s adaptations, but also prepared for an advanced course that would take place the subsequent Quarter.
Advanced Marine Biodiversity: Life on the Edge took place in person at the Aburto Octavio Lab on the UCSD campus. I would spend my afternoon at the lab from 1:00-5:00pm either working on our lab experiment, listening to a lecture about scientific writing or the intertidal’s unique features, or collaborating with a group of my peers on poster presentations of our research. In addition to having the opportunity to be in an actual lab, the class also had on-site field days where we would visit a rocky intertidal to learn more about conservation efforts or collect samples for study.
What Was the Most Memorable Moment of Your Program?
The most memorable moment was being able to perform research in a lab, and then present those findings to the general public at Cabrillo National Monument Visitor’s Center. I not only was able to utilize infrared technology for thermal ecology, but also was provided other materials like heating pads and heat lamps along with additional items needed for the experiment.
I literally experienced “life on the edge” when we maneuvered through an intertidal to gather samples for our research studies. Collecting with my teachers, Nicole Yen and Sonya Timko, by climbing along rocks and guiding crabs through crevices, allowed me to get a sense of what I would do in the field. Overall, I had an amazing adventure and Research Scholars fulfilled my hope of having the experience of being a Marine Biologist before college.
What Advice Do You Have For Teens Looking For Summer Programs?
My advice for teens looking into programs is to be ambitious! My first course through UCSD Extension was meant for college level, but I was taking it as an incoming freshman in high school. Even though it was challenging, I mastered advanced concepts compacted in a short time and felt an amazing sense of accomplishment. For teens looking for an in depth experience, lead with your passion and just go for it! It is so worth it to meet new people who share your interests and instructors who are truly dedicated.
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