During a three-hour drive to an oyster reef restoration site, I learned from my lab group all about the joys of shopping in the produce section at Harris Teeter, a North Carolina-based grocery chain. Morehead City, where UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences is located, isn’t Boston. It’s quieter, slower, and much simpler. My supervisor remarked by saying, “With all that goes on around here, you learn to appreciate the little things in life.”
I’m witnessing this cliche come true as I analyze hundreds of sediment core samples using similar methods I had learned in physics and chemistry lab courses. The precision-oriented tasks I found tedious and trivial have returned, and although still tedious, I now realize they are far from trivial. Every bit of data obtained from each layer of intermingled clay, silt, and sand reveals a secret yet to be unearthed.
Dr. Ethan Baxter of the Geosciences Department has a quote: “Every rock tells a story.” As sea level rise gradually creeps through the 21st Century, these micrometer- to millimeter-wide particles are helping us understand what has happened and what may happen. One of the many stories our lab is currently looking into is the role of oyster reefs in sequestering carbon in the midst of climate change.
Boston College has so far prepared me well for this internship through the education and opportunities it has given me. From learning about partial derivatives with Dr. Chambers to serving hors d’oeuvres with the catering staff, every experience I’ve gained as a BC student has helped me to become a better scientist, thinker, communicator, and person. It’s the little things.
Written by Robin Kim, BC Class of 2018