Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where are they now!? - Matt Starr

It's been four years since Matt had his first summer in the Collin Lab.  Where is he now?

I am originally from Mankato, Minnesota
When I came to the Collin Lab I was an undergraduate student at The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities working hard on a degree in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. I had some research experience working as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in a Psychiatry lab, but little experience in Marine Biology.

My first summer I had two main goals.
The first goal was to help another student, Clair Mérot, finish up her data collection on Crepidula growth rate and sex change for various projects. The second goal was to take good care of the animals in the lab by changing water and feeding algae each morning.

Check out the papers from the project!
Mérot, C. and R. Colin. 2012. Effects of food availability on sex change in two species of Crepidula
Mérot, C. and R. Collin. 2012. Effects of stress on sex change in Crepidula cf. marginalis.

Panamá was a whole new adventure for me. 
I had no idea what life in Panamá was like. I had never experienced anything like a rainy season or the Panama Canal. It was my first time in a spanish speaking country, and only my second time being near the ocean!

I had never held a crab before...   

My first time ever holding a crab...I was 
so worried about being pinched I had 
to use an oven mit...
...or had to dodge Diablo Rojos in a rainy season downpour...
Panama City, Diablo Rojo, STRI

...But eventually I became used to the loud Diablo Rojos...

...and was even able to touch a crab with my bare hands...

...and I've been a part of the Collin Lab ever since.

I am still working with the Collin Lab but now I am taking classes for a Masters of Science degree at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, Louisiana. I have two co-advisors, Rachel Collin and Joe Neigel, and my project is concerned with the evolution of slipper snails in the genus Crepipatella. I'm using multilocus nuclear gene sequences to study phylogenetic relationships within the group and look for evidence of selection on genes associated with environmental stress.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kayaking, Manatees, Horseshoe Crabs, and Snails

By Anabell Cornejo

Center for Marine Tropical Ecology
University of Bremen, Germany

The Smithsonian Marine Science Station in Fort Pierce in Florida is one of those places where
research is done in style.

I visited the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce in Florida, for the first time on July 2011. It
was a great experience for me. Besides research work, I had the opportunity to meet new people
and visit new places. It was also the first time that I saw a live horseshoe crab, something very
Horseshoe crab in Florida
My first Horseshoe crab

My main goal during 2011 (besides research work) was to see a manatee. I had heard
about them many times but I had never seen them myself.

I returned to the Marine Station a second time during July 2012. I had to work intensively with our
Crepidula snails doing the bead feeding experiment, making videos of bead feeding, and helping
out with other experiments at the same time.

The species that we used were: C. ustulatulina, C. atrasolea, C. depressa, C. fornicata, and B.
calyptraeformis. These species are usually pretty easy for us to find, except we have always had
a little trouble finding C. ustulatulina because they are smaller and the population seems to be
reduced in some areas.

On our official first day of work Dr. Collin, 2 friends, and I went kayaking (yes, kayaking - what
an amazing job) in a beautiful place surrounded by mangroves. We saw small sandy islands,
dolphins and the biggest surprise “the adorable manatees”. They were swimming around our
kayaks for a couple of minutes. There were three of them, I suppose: a mom, a dad and a baby. I
can’t describe how I felt during that moment; I was like a kid and her candy. I would say that the
manatees are not the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen, but in some way they are special for
 Science, Research, Biology, Florida Manatees

We continued kayaking and somebody said, “Hey can we make a short stop here? This looks like the perfect environment for Crepidulas!” and it was! As an added bonus, we even found C. ustulatulina! Many of them were attached to beer bottles, which are the perfect substrates for
them (glass) we also found them attached to shells.

Small Crepidula attached to the bottle 
Crepidula's attached to a shell        

We also went to Sebastian Inlet to collect some Bostrycapulus on the rocky shore. It was little but
difficult to get them, because they are attached to big muddy rocks, and the murky water made it
hard to see even a short distance underwater.

Lastly, we went to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to search for a few more C.
ustulatulina. Between the best friends of a good friend, “the mosquitoes”. There were a lot of C.

After around 4 hours of kayaking, being with manatees, collecting snails, and of course a new sun
tan, we were ready for the next part of the schedule: lab work.

Besides work, there was always time to get some good U.S. beer and have some food. I tried the
gator bites at the restaurant next to the hotel we were staying in, I really like it, it was the first
time I had had alligator meat… and no, it didn’t taste like chicken.

I loved going to the market on Saturday morning. There you can have good food and beverages,
and we also bought some puppy treats! My beautiful dog “Tekila”, loved the baked cookies
flavored with bacon and cheese.

During the stay at the Marine Station, you have the opportunity to meet many scientists and to
learn something new. The Station’s staff and scientists are very welcome and very helpful.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Personal Collin Lab Experience

By Paul Schmidt Yáñez

Hey Everybody,

Some of you might know me but more, I guess, will not, so I'll quickly introduce myself and my connection to the Collin Lab.

I'm Paul, Bachelor of Science student in biology at the Free University of Berlin and, before long, Masters student in Göttingen in Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution. I had the chance to visit the Collin Lab, especially all it's nice people, between April and August 2010 for an internship during my Bachelor studies.

I really enjoyed my stay and the wonderful time and also have special moments I won't forget.

Something I'll never forget are the busses. They are always crowded and super uncomfortable. They break down every once in a while and take really long traveling through the countryside. In other words: just perfect! One I miss especially is the institute's bus taking people from Tupper to Naos every morning around 7 or so. There was a special comfort sitting in that tiny bus, cramped together with all the other people before the day began. There wasn't much talk in the mornings except for special occasions like soccer matches but that didn't matter. Sitting in that bus always made you feel a little more Panamanian, more connected to the people. I liked it.

Also another memorable moment was, when Kecia, Abby, Matt and I went sampling to a beach, close to la Boca to get some fiddler crabs. I forgot to lock the door of the car, something you'll always end up learning the hard way if you don't pay attention. I didn't care too much about my notebook but poor Matt ended up without his wallet, including ID, and especially without pants! I still feel really guilty about that, sorry Matt!

Another thing I really appreciated was the lunchtime with perfect harmony and weather, when the lab went to Isla Perico to eat at a small pizza shop close to the Yacht Club. It is the best pizza on the causeway and a tradition that should not be forgotten!

The famous "Pizza al leño" with other Naos students
Some people in the Collin Lab group having a TGIF beer (although that term did not really apply since working with those persons was always fun :)

So that's it, some small bits of memory I wanted to share with you. And now that I've written them down new ones pop up out of the blue and conjure smiles onto my face during work, in much colder and far less tropical, Berlin.

Hope you enjoyed,