Student Update November 9, 2012

We have been spending a lot of time doing work on our research projects these past few days, getting ready for the presentation Parents’ Weekend, and the Research Symposium.  My research group, Climate Change, spent our class yesterday preparing for presentations that we are giving this afternoon to other students, and teachers.  The last presentation that we gave was only our project introductions, but now we are presenting about our whole project, so these presentations definitely cover a lot more ground.  In climate change, we have been studying the effects that rising temperatures and acidity have on tropical flats fishes, and to do this, we have been doing a lot of work in the lab, with a shuttlebox.  A shuttlebox is two tanks, about the size of a baby pool, connected by a shuttle.  We change the lower the pH in one tank, observing at what point fish will leave the environment that they are used to, to go to an environment that is more suitable for them, having a lower pH.  While we are in the lab, it can be stressful because one person is recording the data, and watching the computer screen that shows the fish’s behavior, and four other people are recording the pH and dissolved oxygen in both sides of the shuttlebox, so it can get kind of confusing with people yelling numbers at you, and making sure that the data is collected on time, every two minutes.  I usually record the data and watch the computer screen, so I eagerly wait for the fish to swim to the other side, and stay there so we can call the experiment.  Sometimes we go out into the field, to collect the fish that we are going to use in the lab, but one thing that I am excited for after parents weekend, is that we are going out into the lab to get a juvenile lemon shark that we can use for our experiment.  Our experiment is geared a lot more towards lab work, so it is a nice change of pace when we can get out of the classroom and lab and do something a little different. We are going to place the shark in one side of the shuttlebox, and the fish on the other side, and lower the pH of the side that the fish is on, and see at one point the pH gets high enough that the fish is willing to compensate its safety for a more suitable conditions.  The presentations this afternoon should be interesting, and I am looking forward to seeing what other groups have been doing for their research projects!