I've been at Oregon State University for just over 2 years. My lab has been finished for just over a year, I have 2 graduate students now, and have hosted 6 undergraduate researchers in my lab. In the last few years, I've been out to sea a few times to collect planktic forams to begin to test the feasibility of culturing planktics here. It definitely can be done, though it is more challenging compared to culturing at a place like, for instance, Catalina Island, where the seas are calm most mornings and the foram species available are culture friendly (there is a reason we refer to O. universa as the lab rat).
I've also been tinkering with the idea of culturing benthic forams local to this region. But first, I had to find some. And so last week we headed to the coast in the early morning hours to dig around in the muddy tidal flats for benthic forams. My colleague, George Waldbusser, took us to a few places he's familiar with. We started near the Hatfield Marine Science Center (photo on left below) and then headed to Sally's Bend (photo on right) a bit south of Newport, Oregon.
It was a gorgeous morning for field sampling: No rain, no wind, and clear skies! We sampled our first site just as the sun started to rise.
You'll notice the rookie professor on the left in the photos above. Yep, that's me. In not so great field gear. (ok, so that isn't anywhere close to field gear). I recently lent my waterproof boots and bibs to a student and forgot they were in a bin in the lab instead of a bin in my garage. So I woke up at 5am, basically ready to go (car packed the night before, snacks, first aid kit, coffee, tea in a thermos...) but without any field gear. I thought, well, it's going to be a calm warm morning, I'll just pack extra cloths in case I need them... So there I am, in the mud flats, with my properly dressed students, and I'm in jeans and a decades old pair of boots (UGH! such a rookie). This was definitely a teaching moment: Do as I say not as I do! Do not attempt. (I will never do this again...). At least I packed the extra boots and clothes to change into. Which were pretty useful after we sank in the mud at Sally's Bend and fell over trying to get out.
Post sampling, we ate at an amazing breakfast place in Newport (La Maison), and then headed back to the lab to start picking for forams. The foram search was slow, but we did find live calcareous benthics (the agglutinated species are more common). So despite the cold toes and lesson learned (Don't be like Jenn. Have extra foul weather gear and boots!), we did find live forams (and some dead one's)!
It was a successful hunt! (and damn, those benthic forams sure are pretty...)