STEP Undergraduate Research – Ocean Reef Soundscape

What?

This summer I was a Marine Physical Lab intern at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla, CA. This program lasted for 10 weeks and culminated in an end-of-the-summer research presentation where I presented my research project to other members of my lab and other program participants. Within the Marine Physical Lab I was a part of the Marine Bioacoustics Lab under the direction of the principle investigator, Dr. Ana Širović, and one of her doctoral candidates, Katherine Cameron. My research project was to listen to and log calls collected via hydrophone off the southwest coast of the Little Cayman Island in order to learn the soundscape and localize fish calls, identify what type of call is made by what kind of fish, in order to lay the groundwork for further research in this area. The primary target of the project I worked on was to assess if there are acoustical triggers for Nassau Grouper, Epinephelus striatus, larvae to help them identify the locations of their primary habitat, coral reefs, versus the open ocean. This internship also provided lectures by factuality members in the Marine Physical Lab as well as tours of facilities, the Scripps’ Machine Shop, and an audio and 3D imagining research center on UCSD’s main campus. Also due to my position as an intern, I was allowed to attend several symposiums and tours of research vessels that occurred on Scripps campus and in San Diego while I was there. I was also given the opportunity to go out on the ocean and collect whale poop for a different doctoral student’s research. I also got to explore San Diego and do a lot of other fun things such as learn how to surf (surfboard provided by the lab), snorkel around La Jolla Cove with harbor seals, and play my bass at an art gallery opening.

So What?

This experience helped me discover and explore a possible career path. I am pursuing a dual degree in Earth System Sciences and Music Education and have been searching for a good way to combine my interests. Marine acoustics is a good combination of the two disciplines as it allows me to combine my interest in oceanography with a study of the music of the ocean. This internship also allowed me to perform undistracted research and see if I enjoyed just doing research. This opportunity helped me understand that playing the bass is also important to me, and that I should make sure I continue to play, no matter what my profession ends up being. All of the symposiums, talks, and tours I was able to go on helped expand my knowledge of the field of marine acoustics, especially marine mammal acoustics, internal waves, the Keeling Curve, and many other topics and gave me a good idea of what a career in the profession would be like.

Now What?

As I am trying to decide whether I want to become a research scientist or a teacher, this gave me a good look into what it would be like to be a research scientist. It also gave me an in-depth look at what it would be like to live and work by the ocean. This research experience helped drive me to join another lab, Dr. Derek Sawyer’s Basin Research lab group, in addition to Dr. Anne Carey’s research group, in order to continue research in the field of marine acoustics.

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John Zarick STEP Neuroscience Research Experience

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STEP Reflection                                                               Name:  John Zarick

STEP Experience: Neuroscience Research in Contextual Memory via Neuro-Life Logging

 

 

What? –For my STEP project, I decided to dive further into the world of neuroscientific research. I’ve been a research assistant in Dr. Per Sederberg’s computational memory lab since I was a freshman, and now as a senior I wanted to be able to get a fuller experience of being a researcher. Working with both my STEP advisor Dr. Rosemary Loza, and my lab director Dr. Per Sederberg, we came up with a project that satisfied both the interests of myself and my lab. The project we decided upon was a bit of a step outside the box for our lab in terms of research.  We normally study contextual memory in the lab, via computer-generated context. That can mean either pictures or words or even just splotches of color on a screen.  I thought it was time to take the concepts that we study in the lab, to a less manufactured and forced context of the real world.  The experiment went like this, each participant was given a small camera called a narrative clip, which takes up the area of about 1 square inch. This is attached to the collar of the shirt the participant is wearing. This narrative clip takes pictures inconspicuously every thirty seconds.  The participant is not aware of when the camera will be taking pictures, as no noise or flash is made when it does so. They pick a day of the week on which to wear the camera throughout their school day, to and from classes. The same day of the week, a Tuesday for example, will be when they wear the camera for the second time. Having the participant wear the camera on the same day of the week ensures that they will have a pretty similar schedule. They will go to the same classes, have the same meetings, etc.  On the third week of the experiment, the participant comes into the lab, where we perform an EEG (electroencephalography) test on them while they complete the difficult task of deciding what day each picture was taken on. I select roughly 200 pictures and present them, mixed up, to the participant on a computer screen while we measure their brain activity through the EEG.  The average response correctness was around 70% correct overall. We also measured reaction time and other variables for further analysis.  After completing the task, participants were compensated monetarily for their help in this project.  The project is ongoing, but STEP funding allowed me to stay in Columbus over the summer so I could do research, as well as take a calculus class.

So What? – Throughout this experience, I’ve learned a lot. Not only did I learn how to use programs like ipython notebook, EEG pycorder, and other complex software, but I learned valuable lessons such as how to recruit people in a timely manner, how to organize your files in a way that makes it easy not just for yourself but for others, how to keep to a schedule, and how to ask for help when you need it.  That last one is a big one.  Sometimes I get carried away and think that I have to prove myself by being able to do everything on my own.  This is good sometimes, but can lead to big issues if you don’t have the skills necessary to complete a task.  As a student researcher, there are plenty of things that I don’t know, and if I were to simply charge ahead on my own and not consult someone with more experience, I usually ended up getting myself into a problematic situation that could have easily been avoided if I had swallowed my pride and asked for help.  This has been one of those experiences that you go into thinking that you will be prepared for, but find out how little you really know.  It has been fascinating and humbling at the same time.  I’ve gotten to know some of the grad students in my lab on a more personal level and am now able to relate to them more closely since I have now experienced a portion of what they do on a daily basis while working towards their PHDs. Overall I’m very glad that I chose to do research as my STEP project.  It allowed me to push myself in an area that I’ve had interest in for quite some time.  I would not have had the financial means to stay in Columbus without having to work a full time job if it weren’t for the money that STEP provided.  I have gained a tremendous respect for everyone that pursues research as a career, seeing the amount of work that goes into collecting even a small amount of data. I had a small taste of research, and it was difficult, but also satisfying to be able to accomplish what I have so far
Now What? – Through the STEP program, I got to move one step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.  In order to be an effective healthcare practitioner, you need to be able to understand the theories and basic science behind the practices that you utilize to take care of people.  It isn’t enough just to go through the motions.  You have to know why each step in the process of healthcare is taking place.  Why are certain treatments better to start with than others? Why was this medication formulated in the specific way that it was?  If you have only experienced one link in the chain of healthcare, then you aren’t going to be able to fix things when they go wrong.  Having an understanding of the entire system is always going to result in better care for the patient. I believe that my research experience will be very helpful as I seek to integrate research into patient care.  It does the patient no good to use outdated information, so I want to be able to stay up with the latest research in order to get the most out of my education. I am positive that this experience will enrich and inform my future professional life as a part of the healthcare system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition STEP Experience

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

What?

In August of 2014, I travelled with members of the OSU Cognitive and Systematic

Bukhansan National Park

Bukhansan National Park

Musicology Laboratory to Seoul, South Korea to attend and present at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC). At ICMPC, I encountered cognitive musicologists, neuroscientists, musicians, and interested individuals from almost every part of the globe. A wonderful aspect about this conference was the fact that so many dedicated teams and individuals assembled together for the purpose of sharing knowledge which only further enhanced the growth of music cognition and the overall understanding of the function of the human brain. To me, that is an immensely powerful and positive reason to congregate. I look forward to attending similar events in the future. Apart from gaining invaluable research experience and insight, I was also fortunate enough to indulge in the astounding beauty of Korean culture, hospitality, and history.

I learned a considerable amount about conducting research in my STEP experience. At the end of 2013, I began a research project with graduate researcher Kirsten Nisula in the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory. In this study, we found that in sad music, lyrics are sung more slowly but it is because of arousal not valence. Arriving at this conclusion took more work and time than I original assumed it would. I came to learn that when conducting research, one must be constantly aware of thoroughness and consistency of methods, data, and communication of information. This information has proven to be extraordinarily useful as I move forward to new projects.

 

So What?

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

Personally, this experience was extremely satisfying with respect to life my life goals. Since becoming involved in the Music Cognition Lab, I have looked forward to working on a scientific study and it is worth noting that this was quite a stellar first time experience. In my sophomore year of school, I was not anticipating starting such at an ambitious project and then having it published and presented at an international conference. In a way, this goal was completed before I realized that it was something for which I really wanted to aim. Originally, I was just hoping to help out in the music cognition lab while learning about neuroscience and music. Ultimately, I received an unforgettable experience that has forever changed my outlook on how I plan to spend the remainder of my professional life

Now What?

In Korea, I learned a lot about what I want to do with my life. I got a taste of the other side of the globe and had the opportunity to compare that completely different environment with my home, Ohio. That comparison helped me decide to dedicate myself to constant world travel and, in the near future, living abroad. This is not in an effort to leave my home, but it is an effort to share my experience of life as an Ohioan and achieve a greater understanding of humanity through interaction with different peoples. If anything, by leaving my home, I realized that I love and

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

appreciate it more than words can express. Though I have travelled a considerable amount within the United States, in going to Asia, I came to realize, or at least imagine, just how diverse and unexplored the world truly is. Given that spending ten days in one city afforded such a generous experience, I am eager to visit other parts of South Korea and the world as a whole.

 

Functional Connectivity in the Brain – Summer Research

In my STEP experience, I spent May-August 2014 doing undergraduate research in a neurological stroke rehabilitation lab at the Wexner Medical Center under the oversight of Dr. Alexandra Borstad. Working full time hours with the help of STEP covering my living costs, I spent my time in the lab independently learning the track-weighted functional connectivity analysis procedure, a technique combining both functional data and diffusion-track data into one comprehensive image.  We hypothesize that track-weighted functional connectivity is sensitive to sensory-motor changes caused by stroke. Through the TWFC method, we performed a whole brain analysis in order to assess frontoparietal white matter network connections.

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Essentially, the objective of my STEP undergraduate experience was to learn the TWFC analysis procedure, and to be able to perform the data processing with a high degree of understanding. This will allow me to utilize TWFC analysis in my future undergraduate research on diminished white matter microstructure in persons with stroke. Previous studies have suggested white matter connections are critically important for hand and arm function, and that these connections are diminished after stroke. These studies also suggest that through motor rehabilitation efforts, reorganization of white matter connections occurs. TWFC may be a potential resource for insight into efficacy of rehabilitation, overall damage to the brain network, reorganization of networks, and even predicting the success of rehabilitation methods.

In regards to my thoughts on my STEP experience, I overall felt like this research experience was a substantial challenge that I was happy to face head on. I had not previously had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of hours in a lab due to financial limitations, and STEP made this possible for the first time in my academic career.  I feel that I am much more confident in my ability as a student researcher, and am capable of performing such research in the future. Most of all, through my interactions with stroke patients attending therapy sessions in the Borstad lab, I also realized that I greatly enjoy and respect the clinical atmosphere of medical recovery, and that it is very rewarding improving the lives of patients that you interact with face to face. With this in mind, I will undoubtedly be pursuing a clinical position in my later career, so that I may continue to improve the livelihoods of persons suffering from ailments such as stroke.

I plan on continuing the research I began through my STEP project throughout the remainder of my undergraduate career, as this research is still far from completed. With the framework and understanding of the methodology, it is now a matter of applying it to have a positive impact on our understanding of stroke. Nevertheless, I gained an important understanding of what I want to pursue as a career through this research, as I realized I greatly enjoyed interacting with stroke patients and found it to be immensely rewarding. While I am not currently set on a clinical specialization, I do know now that I want to work with patients in the future, a huge leap forward from before my experience.  Previously, I had little to no idea of what I truly wanted to do with my field or science background, and was greatly confused about which path to take moving forward. Now, I have a solid general direction towards clinical graduate programs, and past research experience to back it up. I am truly thankful to have been provided the opportunity to learn, improve myself, and develop future goals through my STEP experience.

Luke Lundy – Neuroscience 2016

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