Until about a week ago (when Justin Berg joined our lab- see previous post), Melissa and I have been the only students in Dr. Hamdan’s microbial ecology lab, since it moved to USM the previous year. During that time, we have sailed together on three research cruises. Although the scientific objectives are not always the same, we find that with each cruise our experiences bond us closer together as a lab, help us form new bonds with collaborating scientists, and enrich our scientific knowledge.
Being a team player is essential to accomplishing any scientific goals in the Hamdan Lab. On our June 2017 cruise, Melissa helped me collect a lot of seawater (260 liters!) from the Anona shipwreck site to use in my microcosm experiment for my thesis. I ran my experiment for 14 weeks in a cold room, and she helped me sample for hours at a time every two weeks, so that I can study marine biofilm formation and microbially induced corrosion.
On this cruise, I am helping Melissa collect and process sediment cores from transects at historic shipwrecks that will support her thesis on microbial biodiversity. By helping each other with our science, we not only expand our scientific knowledge, but we are also able to learn from one another. One of the things that Melissa taught me this cruise is that fanny packs (aka party packs) are actually very useful, much to our advisor’s chagrin.**
Anybody who has been through grad school knows that it is not easy, and having a support system is important. We may not have a big lab, but we have each other to lean on, and for that I am grateful. On our third cruise, both of us are much less nervous, we are familiar with the protocols, and we are definitely having fun with our science!
**The views expressed on fanny packs are not the official position of the laboratory. Said advisor will never approve of the accessory – this post does not constitute endorsement.