Wow, what a week it has been! First of all, I cannot even begin to describe how busy this past week was in terms of a schedule, and just doing everything! Life has passed by really quickly when it comes to integrating into the social matrix of the UCD campus. Overall, I am impressed by how fast my colleagues and I adapted to such a new environment full of pulsing life. This week primarily involved less touristic exploring around Dublin and more lab work in the aquatic ecology section of the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science. My advisor, Dr. Mary Quinn, is an expert on aquatic ecology when it comes to freshwater Irish river systems and has been very helpful as well as welcoming. Since my research at California Lutheran University was based on marine ecology, I had no prior knowledge of aquatic invertebrates in Ireland, however, I was able to overcome this obstacle.
Yesterday, we went out to the field for the first time in Wexford which is a two hour trip by car in order to assist one of Dr. Quinn’s PhD students with their experiment in his outside laboratory. I have to admit I underestimated the size and scope of a PhD level project! After spending a full seven to eight hours in the field, I can say that I can better understand the struggles of what a PhD student must face in order to write their thesis which is hundreds of pages long. Thankfully, it was not raining in Wexford at the time despite ominous gray clouds brewing over the landscape. The work was physically and mentally draining since each person in our team was assigned a task to complete. Fittingly, my job was more heavy labor oriented around the outside laboratory carrying heavy materials, shepherding samples back to the van, etc. However, I observed many of the other members of the team carrying out their respective tasks gaining an insight into how a PhD research project can be organized.
The tourist side of Dublin has not been ignored at all when it comes to other members of the STEM Summer Dublin group. They have been actively exploring all sides of the city in order to see it all before they launch themselves into other locations such as Amsterdam or France. As for me, I join them on excursions every now and then seeing touristic attractions of Dublin such as the Guinness Storehouse and other locations. Overall, I have to say that the first week of the program was intensive yet rewarding!