Howdy from dry land! I am back on US soil, over the typical two or so days of dock rock, and firmly back in my normal PhD student Paige routine.

Returning from a research cruise is a pretty surreal thing. My social battery was entirely spent. I spent a solid day talking to no one and relishing every minute. My body was also in a bit of a state, and I spent the weekend moving simply and trying to nap whenever I could. Once I started socializing, it was funny to hear that most people had a relatively normal April. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the vibe has officially shifted to summer!! The sun is setting past seven, everyone looks sunkissed, and the flowers are blooming! I am PSYCHING!!!

Many people have asked what my first meal was off of the ship. Our expedition coordinator Shannon treated the scientific party to ramen in Newport, RI where we docked. As a starter I housed a kale salad that had a miso dressing, cashews, and green apple. I got the spicy chicken curry ramen and ate literally every singly scrap and drop of broth (see after picture) Once I got home to Encinitas I bought a bag of baby bell peppers and proceeded to house it while sucking down my favorite LaCroix (coconut, fight me).

Lessons learned

As I have said before, this experience, although incredibly interesting and scientifically relevant, is not related to my actual dissertation at UCLA. What, then, did I get out of this experience? What did I learn, and why did I go?

I’ll start with why I went. The short answer is because this is a rare opportunity. The acceptance rate for this internship is low (about 5%). This internship is also the only chance for students to work with the Office of Exploration and Research at NOAA without getting a very prestigious fellowship or being hired as a federal employee (both of which are incredibly difficult and time consuming). I also went because WHY NOT. If I had not been accepted to this internship I would have attempted to do some work on another oceanographic vessel locally (which would likely have been unpaid) for a week or two. This is really the closest thing I will get to a vacation while I am finishing my PhD. Although it is decidedly not a vacation, it is a break from my research, which has greatly benefited to me and helped curb burnout. Finally, I went because I knew this would be a great networking opportunity.

In terms of actual skills, I came out of this cruise feeling familiar with the whole workflow of hydrographic mapping and bathymetric products. I know what it takes to make an ocean map! (it takes a lot…). Through the process, though, my focus really shifted to cruise planning and understanding how to actually coordinate all of the science while maneuvering around weather and still managing to keep everyone on the ship happy. I loved watching Shannon handle a million tasks every day. She certainly made it look too easy and has inspired me to think of something similar  to her role as a career. I also learned that although things change fast on the ship, things move incredibly slow in government… It was shocking contrast, seeing things change at a seconds notice on the ship but hearing frustration over processes or policies that people have been working to change for years…

This experience gave me incredible insight into the world of oceanography from the government perspective. I now have a foot in the door for what is really the coolest office in NOAA. This cruise also gave me a mental break from my research which I believe will do wonders for my productivity and preventing burnout.

And finally, this expedition gave me lifelong friendships. Its difficult to explain to those that have not experienced an isolating team exercise like this, but the comparison I make is something akin to a science summer camp or sorority. You eat together, work together, sleep together, and although you’re all individuals, you have a common trait that- in this case, being a little crazy and loving the ocean.

Coming out of this cruise I have two primary goals:
  1. Keep the positive momentum going. My PhD should take about 5 years. At times two more years seems short, at times it seems long. Regardless, I need to think less about time and instead put that energy into enjoying the science, interacting with other cool scientists, and sharing my progress, good and bad, with those around me. I loved how collaborative the ship was, and although my personal work is in a completely different environment, I could do a far better job of creating a network and feeling as though I am collaborating with more people than I currently am.
  2. Maintain my connections with the office of exploration and research. As the ship transitions from campaigns in the Atlantic to the Pacific I am only more interested in the already cool things they’re doing onboard! I love the people that work in this office, and I am not shy in my interest in applying for jobs there once I finish grad school.

Have more burning questions?? As you can probably already tell, I’m an open book! Ask away!

AAAND I think that’s enough content from me on this cruise. I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who followed along, asked questions, and delighted in my manic ocean musings. I love sharing this crazy world. Although I didn’t produce as much as I would have liked, I’m happy that I was still able to give a little snapshot of work and life at sea.

**Next month I will pivot the newsletter back to my usual climate science and PhD student musings. IF you do not want to be included in my normal monthly newsletter PLEASE UNSUBSCRIBE. I TAKE ABSOLUTLEY NO OFFENCE!!**

explorers log


Its been an incredible two weeks back. I am so happy to be eating well, swimming and running my little body into the ground, and still watching the sunrise every morning, albeit in a far less epic location.

Cheers to a great adventure, great bonds, and all the great food I am now eating off of the ship!

XOXO Paigey

photo dump

view this email in your browser
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Fiat Lux · 2509 20th St · Santa Monica, CA 90405-2705 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp