Capstone Progress

Despite some hurdles early in the semester, last week we finally made significant progress in our capstone project on living shorelines. We started off the week meeting with our community advisory board at the Dare County Arts Council, where we discussed the challenges and successes in our research so far over tacos and Lindsay’s homemade tres leches cake. We were able to report a successful day in the field the previous Friday and that interviews for our qualitative research were starting to roll in. Toward the end of the meeting, we updated everyone on our individual internships and heard news from Chapel Hill and other field sites from the Institute for the Environment Associate Director Tony Reevy.

On Wednesday, almost all of us loaded up in the van and drove to Hatteras Village to collect samples from Durant’s Point and a property in Frisco. While Bianca and Emily P. stayed behind at the Coastal Studies Institute to process samples from previous collections, we took a short boat ride from Oden’s Dock to the living shoreline. We spent the afternoon taking samples of the above and below ground biomass in the shoreline and a reference marsh, luckily without seriously cracking any core tubes. We’ve become an efficient team out in the field, so we finished a little early and ate lunch on the soundside beach on Durant’s Point. Before returning to CSI, we stopped at a property in Frisco to put gas chambers in place for sampling at a later date and collected a couple more soil cores. We reunited with Bianca and Emily P. when we returned to UNC CSI, who had a productive day on Roanoke Island, and began processing the samples we collected. Luckily, our lab work went much smoother that afternoon than the previous day, which had left the soil core extraction team exhausted. 

On Friday, we all brushed up on our writing skills with an all-day science writing workshop. A central part of our capstone project will be the report we write, so it was great to get more direction and advice on how to translate our research into something the general public can easily relate to and understand. We all came prepared to the workshop with articles about the methods and purpose behind our capstone project, which were edited as a group. It was a good exercise in considering the audience you write for. Most of us are used to working with scientific writing, so branching out into the simple, concise language used in journalism was a challenge.

With the semester about halfway over, work on our capstone is going to really start rolling. We’ve got more sites up and down the Outer Banks to sample, interviews to transcribe, and data to analyze in the upcoming weeks. I’m excited to see where our research takes us next!