Students Conduct Research Off Remote Indonesian Islands
This summer, ten TJ students combined their interest in marine biology and biodiversity preservation with their thirst for adventure, traveling to islands near Sulawesi, Indonesia, for three weeks to receive training and conduct research in one of the world’s most remote and fascinating areas. The islands, isolated from other landmasses by surrounding ocean channels, are rich in species found nowhere else on earth.
The group, led by Oceanography Lab Director Lisa Wu, was one of the first from an American high school to travel with Operation Wallacea, a U.K.-based research organization. The team spent one week in the jungle followed by two weeks at Hoga Marine Research Laboratory, where they assisted the resident scientists and graduate students with ongoing research projects. See Zoe Wang’s blog for trip details.
Because many students had their diving certifications or completed them at Hoga, some were able to work on research projects that required dives. Rising seniors Billie Males and Parth Desai, for example, collected data on coral metabolic rates for an ocean acidification project and took reef transects to locate anemones cohabitating with fish not normally found with them, videotaping them for territory analysis.
According to Billie, the intensive three-weeks was particularly valuable preparation for her research-focused senior year. “This experience gave me a better feel for how scientists function in the field,” she said. “It was particularly affirming to realize that I really enjoy field work, and several scientists also offered to keep in touch and become mentors for our senior research projects. Knowing the ‘real world’ applications of the post’s research will also help guide those of us entering TJ’s Oceanography Lab to create more useful and topical projects.”