The busiest semester yet for the Humphries Lab is all wrapped up. Fall 2016 ended with a flourish as the crew conquered everything from core classes to proposals and posters.
Paul (PhD student) completed 9 units towards his doctoral degree and nailed down a dissertation topic. Paul will focus on fish population dynamics and potential conservation benefits under gear-based fisheries management for coral reef fisheries. Over the break Paul will be developing a fisheries model exploring fish population response to different gear types (e.g., spears, traps, nets, etc.). He's applying to participate in a workshop hosted by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center that provides training for working in interdisciplinary teams and developing grant proposals. Paul is also very excited to get back to campus to meet his brand-new, super fast computer and start running multi-day long simulation models.
Katie (Masters student) worked on her program's core classes while also completing her first round of aging over 200 samples of blue shark vertebrate. She was also active as a volunteer with the National Marine Fisheries Services. Katie will begin a second round of aging her blue shark samples but is first taking the opportunity for some R&R; snorkeling, beaching, and diving in Hawaii.
Evans (PhD student) continued to hone skills he'll use in his doctoral work, completing Advanced Ecology and learning to code in R for the Ecological Statistics course. Evans will use the winter break to get his dissertation proposal in final form; his research aims to assess sardine population growth in Ghana under two ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies -- seasonal fishing closures and Marine Protected Areas (or 'no-take' zones).
Elle (PhD student) spent her first semester as a doctoral student trying to internalize the fact that she is, indeed a doctoral student. After the appropriate amount of struggling, Elle is very happy to have passed her first coding class -- Ecological Statistics -- among other required courses. She also taught an Introductory Biology Lab, and has started her own web comic about being a PhD student and an aspiring triathlete. At the end of the semester, Elle returned home to Indonesia to continue work on her research there.
Diky (PhD student) spent a large portion of his Fall 2016 semester in Raja Ampat, an Indonesian island chain off the coast of West Papua. While there, Diky worked to build a gonad index for local reef fish and gathered data on fishing practices through interviews with fisherfolk. Working with local community leaders and COREMAP-CTI facilitators, he also helped conduct multiple focus groups and workshops aimed at building local social capacity and training fishers in data collection as well as alternative livelihood skills. Diky is now back in Rhode Island and will use the winter break to read up on current literature and work on finishing his dissertation proposal.
Lauren (Masters student) finished up her data collection just as the Fall semester began and launched into data analysis while also getting to teach for the first time. Lauren was lucky enough to secure a TA for Marine Biology Lab which came with a healthy number of Fall field trips, including the rocky intertidal at Beavertail State Park, a trawl on URI's research vessel Cap'n Bert, and Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium. She also presented results from her thesis at the Restore America's Estuaries 2016 National Summit in New Orleans, LA. In addition, Lauren ran a booth related to her master's thesis at the Science and Education Fair at the NEOSEC Ocean Literacy Summit in Portland, Maine. Lauren will continue in high gear through the break and into the Spring 2017 semester, drafting a manuscript and preparing for May graduation.
Austin worked with John and Cindy West of Cedar Island Oysters to start a pilot-level project on growing kelp in an integrated multi-trophic system above oysters. Austin also developed proposals with a wide variety of colleagues for work on coral reef fisheries in Indonesia and across the wider Indo-Pacific, and taught two new courses that required lots of hard work but were also very rewarding. He expects Spring 2017 to bring even more excitement in the classroom as he develops and teaches a new Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Science & Management graduate course with Jeremy Collie. Austin also had to get glasses which brought on many midlife crisis thoughts.
Though we'll first have to survive the New England winter (Paul for the very first time), the whole Humphries Lab team is looking forward to what awaits in Spring 2017. Jack Girard and Max Bucher, both undergraduates at URI, will join us to conduct independent studies in the lab. Jack in interested in focusing on biogeochemical interactions in coral reef systems as well as relevant statistical analysis techniques, and Max on the impact of selective gear management systems within small-scale fisheries.
And! Last but not least, the Humphries Lab will be relocating to a fancy new building, the Center for Biology and Life Sciences (CBLS) this semester. We will miss the cozy carpeted feel of Woodward Hall but not the ear-splitting banging of heating pipes. Look for Austin's new office in the first floor wing of CBLS this week. See you all in the New Year!