An Invertebrate Intermission: Why I Spent My Semester in Bodega Bay, California


By: Benjamin Rubinoff, Environmental Science | West Chester, OH

Growing up in Southwest Ohio, the closest beach to me was an amusement park. However, family vacations and countless books and documentaries ignited my passion for marine life. I chose to go to The Ohio State University because I knew I’d be able to “get my feet wet” in research from the beginning. With my marine passion in mind, I have sought out internships and experiences outside of the classroom to prepare me for a PhD in Marine Ecology. After reading some scientific papers, I whimsically decided to email a researcher at University of California Davis to see if he needed any help with research. After a few phone calls and a visit, I was offered the position to work as an Undergraduate Laboratory Technician for Dr. Ted Grosholz at Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Conquering my 5-day road trip adventure, I made it to California in September 2015. I helped with a project looking at the effects of estuarine acidification on oyster growth and survival. Carbon dioxide can dissolve into surface waters, increasing acidity. This acidification, along with projected extreme weather events, has and will continue to be harmful to organisms, including economically important species like oysters. Working in Tomales Bay, CA, an estuary just north of San Francisco, I assisted with field experiments and data analysis that seek to better understand these complex changes. While the work wasn’t always glamorous (I measured thousands of oysters), I enjoyed helping with both lab work and data analysis. I even was able to help in presenting this project at two scientific conferences!

Hoping to complete my PhD at UC Davis, this experience gave me incredible networking opportunities. I was also able to reflect and grow as a person in my time there. Boating in 10 ft. swells, accidentally stabbing myself (instead of the oyster), and dealing with massive data sets tested my patience. However, I can proudly say that after returning, I believe my time out west further solidified my research and career goals. I will end this post with some unsolicited advice: the world is your oyster. Take a step outside of your comfort zone! You may just land a position working your dream job in one of the most beautiful places in the world.


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