The Who’s Who at OBXFS

So when I was considering what to write about for this week’s blog post, I realized that while I’ve been saying the names of the students in the field site with me, most people have no idea who they are. And that’s unfortunate…because they’re awesome. So here’s the low-down on the 9 other students who I see almost 24 hours a day. We’re so close, I know them by their footsteps down the hallway. Wow that sounds creepy…


They’re probably also going to kill me for this, but hey, I get a blogger’s pass! Right…?


AnnaFirst off, Anna Brodmerkel. Super embarrassing secret, it took me 2 weeks to figure out how to say her last name. Anna is the initiator/organizer of our group. In layman’s terms, she gets our butts in gear and makes sure we’re on track for our hectic schedules. Which is a chore because we’re kind of a lot to handle most of the time. We’d be lost without her. She has also helped us be super active in the community and do cool things like pumpkin picking. Plus she’s ridiculously sweet, sassy, and funny. And she’s always game for going to hang out on the beach with me so she’s awesome.



Caitlin2Caitlin Seyfried is the surprise of the group. It took a few weeks for all of us to realize just how funny and sassy this girl is. And let me tell you, I’ve had some pretty serious laughing fits at her under the radar comments; they’ll come out of nowhere though and when you least expect it, so you’ve always got to be ready. Fun fact, this girl can bake. I’m talking bread that will make you forget your mama’s name, but only for like .25 seconds so don’t be alarmed. She also gets incredibly hyper at night, which kind of freaks me out and impresses me all at the same time. Like, the girl goes on night runs sometimes because she has so much energy. What?


EmmaEmma Boyd is definitely the thoughtful one of the family. She got up the other morning at 6 a.m. and baked cookies for us all before we went on a field trip. Emma also biked across the United States so she’s pretty much kick-butt. I’m just saying. Speaking of cookies, she’s the other residential chef in the group. Pizza, soups, and oh my gah, her cinnamon rolls. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a strong advocate for cinnamon; they’ll literally change your life. She’s also super funny. And sassy. Notice the common sass trend?



ChristyChristy Korzen is Miss Optimist. She’s my suite-mate so I’m luckily a subject to her optimism every day. No matter what situation arises, she throws a positive spin on it. Thanks, love! This girl also sings all the time. In the car, in her room, walking up the stairwell… She joined a local chorus group at the OBX so it’s a pretty big passion of hers. Oh and one of her favorite movies is Les Miserables so we were pretty much destined to be friends.



Brady2Brady Blackburn is the sweetheart of our little family. He’s game to try or do anything with us, and doesn’t even complain when he’s got a car full of girls begging him to play Taylor Swift on the radio. Bless his soul. Fun fact, he lost two of his teeth to an unfortunate incident with a golf club wielded by his brother and he frequently loses “his teeth” around the house. It’s been 2 months and hearing that still cracks me up. He’s also going to kill me for sharing that haha… But anyways, he’s the best.



ClaireClaire Johnson is just multifaceted. She’s incredibly sweet and thoughtful. Plus she loves coffee as much as I do and is a speed demon, so we’re pretty much kindred spirits. She also helps keep us on track during classes and research. She’ll be real with us, which is what we need most of the time. (We tend to get a bit rowdy). And she can throw some sass. I’m telling you, this group is filled with sass-masters.



indexHolly Roberts is our feisty one. You never truly know what she’s going to do next. Which keeps things super fun. And she loooves cats. Her cat Salsa is her baby. Super fun fact, this girl can knit like nobody’s business. She made a Teridactyl that was freaking awesome! She’s also game to watch movies with me all the time and do awful workouts in the backyard, so I love her.



NicNic Reschly is the jokester of the group. Big time. I rarely see the guy not playing around, but he keeps conversations that can get pretty monotonous, lively. That and you never really know what’s going to come out of the boy’s mouth. He’s also an avid, avid hunter and fisher. Looking at his Instagram is like looking at a fishing magazine. Being the house beach native, he grew up around the ocean so it’s a huge passion for him; as is surfing.



CokerCoker Holmes is also the wildcard. You never know what he’s going to do or say. He’s one of the 3 seniors as well so he’s a frequent traveler to Chapel Hill during the weekends. He’s also puts all of us to shame by donning a suit for internship (he’s with a law office this semester). Secret fact: he cooks frequently but has set off the fire alarm once and has almost set it off a few times so we keep a careful eye on him. But that’s on the down low.



I could write pages on just how awesome and unique these people are, but I feel like that may be overkill. We’re a diverse group and we cut up pretty much all day every day, much to the exasperation of Lindsay. But, we have fun. These people have become close friends to me and they’ve helped make this semester ah-mazing. And the fun will continue when I’m living with some of them next year!


For all those thinking about the field site, you’ll probably make some kick-butt friends/partners in crime so reason number 8,605 to come here! Not real crime…just some devious activities. But nothing too bad… No worries.



CinnamonXOXO   The resident reporter

The Day I Realized My Internship Mentor is Freaking Awesome

So as I sit in the airport trying to get to New York for Fall Break, I’m wondering why in the world I left the comfort of the Outer Banks. Seriously, this sucks. I’m also reminiscing on the past week and figured I’d spill the beans on how freaking cool my internship was on Monday.

My mentor, John McCord, took pity on me, and my inability to do anything technological, and brought me along with himself, Nathan Richards (another super smart, super cool guy), and two graduate students for a trip to take pictures of a shipwreck on the beach. My thoughts- best mentor EVER. What I didn’t realize was just how cool his job and research are.


One words ladies and gents: photogrammetry.



Now, I dunno about you, but I had no freaking idea what photogrammetry is. Technical term for instagramming photos? Not quite.Turns out, John can take hundreds of pictures and create a 3D model of the shipwreck.

Insert: collective eyebrow raises and murmurs of being super impressed

The process for getting ready to make the model was actually fairly simple. We placed coded targets (each one has a certain design on it that makes them distinguishable from the others) around the shipwreck and took pictures from different angles at each target. John flew an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka kind of like a drone but don’t call it that around John) to capture the shipwreck from above. Once we took around 200 pictures, a software program was able to build the shipwreck from the ground up by finding common points in each of the pictures and molding them together. Kind of like a really weird puzzle. Except way cooler and more intense…


We had a huge crowd around us by the end of it because who wouldn’t be super curious about a remote controlled helicopter-type thing flying around? It sounded like a Star Wars movie. And the crazy thing is that the entire process took less than an hour. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Science is so cool.

John and Nathan are actually the first people to try this off the coast of North Carolina so like yeah, they’re pretty friggan awesome. The potential for what these models can be used for is also incredible. By going back to these sites repeatedly, researchers will be able to see how fast these wrecks are being buried, built back up, or affected by humans. Which will be a huge help to conservationists trying to manage these sites. So if you’re a history lover, your day just got a million times better.

So, yeah. Learned how to use a camera and learned how cool my mentor was in like 2 hours. Plus I got to admire technology from afar, which is pretty much the extent of my good relationship with all things electronic. Day well spent if I must say so myself. Thank you OBXFS!

XOXO   A student that’s feeling pretty freaking excited about life/the beach/fun stuff

CAB Meetings? Are We Learning About a Taxi Service?

Thankfully, no. I don’t even know what that would look like…


When I began my OBXFS journey, I had no idea what a “CAB” was. Yeah, they said it’s a community advisory board but what does that even mean? After the first couple of meetings, I found that the people we meet with give us a real insider’s view on the local perspective, which was an enormous help with our Capstone project. Plus, it’s pretty cool just learning about the Outer Banks from a non-touristy point of view.


To really show what the meetings are all about, here’s a synopsis of the last powwow.


So we arrived and socialized for about half an hour, learning everyone’s names (aka re-learning because this is the fourth time meeting them and I suck at remembering people’s names yet they mercifully take pity on me and keep introducing themselves) and caught up on the local gossip. They also love hearing about what we’re doing and they all lead super interesting lives so it’s fun listening to what they’re involved in.


Then, all of us students presented what we’ve done with the capstone research since the last meeting, what we hope to get done, and answered any questions the CAB members may have. During this particular presentation, they helped us come up with a list of people we could contact and interview for the social science aspect of our project. The great thing about the meeting is seeing their perspective on things: what locals may be thinking, people we should talk to, and other avenues we may consider. Most of the people have lived a large portion of their life here so they know what’s up and have connections. Kinda like the mafia… the in-the-name-of-science mafia.


When all is said and done and we convinced them and ourselves we’re making some type of progress, we (insert trumpets and disco lights) ate a free dinner. So far, the food has been spec-tacular. Like, go back for seconds and sometimes thirds if you planned ahead and didn’t eat all day to save room kinda good. This week, it was BBQ, slaw, mac and cheese, and salad. And they always have vegetarian options, so everybody’s happy. Plus, don’t even get me started on dessert. If you’ve read my later post, you know it’s a soft spot for me and lets just say, I have not been disappointed.


After dinner, it’s up to the hosts to decide what’s next. This week’s meeting found us all gathered around Albert Gard hearing childhood stories of growing up on the Outer Banks, unsolved ghost ship tales, and how WWII affected the coast. Yes, he did insert dramatic pauses and yes, it was some grade-A story telling. I was sitting on the edge of my seat at some points. No shame in my game.



Afterwards, we got a week worth of leftovers and then busted our butts home to do homework. It’s the glorious life we live.


I’ll be the first to say I was skeptical as what to expect at these meetings, but I think those involved added some really great ideas to our project and they’ve helped us make connections that pretty much got our social science research work off the ground. Plus, they’re all just wonderfully nice, interesting people who really care about us and want to help in any way they can. They can also get you really involved in the community or connect you with any interests you may have. For instance, one of the members helped me find a gym to go to while I’m here (I’m a gymoholic so I was borderline singing her praises when she got me in).


So moral of the story: you’ll get free food (music to any college student’s ears), great conversation, and meet super cool people. CAB meetings are definitely highlights of the week. Trust me, you’ll enjoy them. Just make sure you talk to the people while you’re there and maybe work on the presentation a bit beforehand so you’re not completely winging it. Lindsay will know if you do…


XOXO Doing cool things and loving it OBXFS student

Data data everywhere and not an answer to derive.

Actually, that’s not totally true, we do have some possible answers for our Capstone research… But that’s beside the point.


So as a current update yours truly along with the fabulous 2015 OBXFS crew have compiled a hefty load of natural and social science research data and will keep it streaming in for the next month or so.


To fill you in on this year’s research, it entails those delicious little morsels called oysters and if oyster aquaculture (farming) is beneficial or detrimental to the areas where the farms are located. To do this, we’re looking at all of the environmental aspects associated with the farming, plus how the local communities perceive it.



Ooo the suspense of what’s what.


For those wondering why in the world we’re looking at oysters in the sound, North Carolina has the smallest oyster aquaculture industry on the east coast, but has prime real estate for the little pearl bearers. Things that make us science enthusiasts go, “Hmm…”



As of now for the natural science aspect, we’ve collected what seems like endless measurements of light extinction (how far light travels through the water), turbidity (how clear the water is), chlorophyll (hints at productivity in the water) and a long list of other stuff. I, along with Holly, have been in charge of a device called YSI which takes about 8 different water quality measurements. Holly and I named it Buzz on account of its bazooka like appearance.  You get pretty close with something after going through torrential storm downpours and hours of taking measurements…


And oh man, we’ve been up to our eyeballs in SAV (aka Submerged Aquatic Vegetation aka sea grass). Now you may be thinking I’m being dramatic, but some of us have literally been up to our eyeballs… underwater… collecting the SAV. So it still counts. While I understand the importance of SAV, I’m not the biggest fan in the world. Mainly because in order to get an idea of how much of the stuff is out there, we randomly sampled a whole bunch of areas, rinsed what we gathered and then sorted it into roots and stems. Every. Single. Piece. Needless to say, we’re hoping the results are freaking spectacular.


As for what’s next, the SAV has reached the end of it’s season (collective sigh of relief), so we’re going out one more time to get water measurements and then we are doneski.


On the social science side, the good news is we’ve conducted some interviews but we’ve still got a loooong ways to go. However, we’ve gotten some great perspectives on aquaculture from stakeholders and it’s just fun to hear what they have to say. Or at least I think so. As of this week, we’ll be compiling our transcribed interviews (oh yeah, we typed out every single word) and coming up with trending topics.



The weird thing about social science is that you actually don’t have research questions until about mid-way through the process. So we came up with a general direction of what we wanted to know, wrote up a list of questions to ask them, and then we’ll look at what people say in order to determine what’s important and what we want to ask future interviewees. Weird, I know, and it goes against what every natural science teacher beat into us in high school.


Essentially, we have a long way to go but it’s nice being able to take a step back and see progress. I never thought of combining natural and social science, but it’s a pretty intertwined thing if you think about it. Plus, this is my first research project so it’s cool knowing I’m contributing to science not just learning about what others have done.


Also lets be real. I’m getting school credit for spending days on a boat, meeting new people, and doing cool things. That’s just awesome!





Okay, I’m done.


XOXO Sleep deprived and loving every second of it OBXFS student