There is a certain thrill to the sound of “lab work”. For me this semester, this thrill entailed the brackish smell of the Wanchese Harbor, the application and reapplication of sunscreen, the whip of wind, the revitalization from the taste of hummus, and a candid view of oysters. For the OBXFS 2014 Capstone, our group studied the ecosystem services of oysters in a comparison between natural conditions and an oyster aquaculture facility. We carried out field work in an aquaculture facility in the Roanoke Sound. As someone who had never been exposed to lab work, I was hooked on the work we conducted. Collecting real-world data, speculating about the trends and patterns, and making connections to concepts outside of the classroom was a rewarding and empowering experience. There was also a high degree of liberty in choosing
There was one time where a classmate and I had the chance to fully suit up in wet suits and snorkels to collect submerged aquatic vegetation, or plants that grow on the sound bed. During which, we made a collection of sound-related puns and recited lyrics from some of our favorite music artists. After collection, we were able to make conscious decision about the next steps in how were going to handle the vegetation. This, we separated by species and specific locations into aluminum packages. Though tedious, it provided a lot of time to ponder about pursuing academia further after undergrad. I decided that it surely wouldn’t hurt to replicate the fun times I had, and I imagined where research could take me.
Along with this experience and others, the Field Site traveled all across the Outer Banks speaking with different experts on topics, such as sea turtle identification and seashell art. This made my experiences more interactive and comprehensive and I endlessly recommend the Field Site to anyone who inquires.