Greetings from Dublin, Ireland! It’s getting near the end of the summer (already!), so I thought it past time to fill you all in on my experiences abroad.
I’ve spent the duration of this summer at the University College Dublin (UCD) through a program known as CoBiD-UREKA. It’s a research-based program which accepts students from around the world for a 10 week, allexpense-paid research internships. They tend to pick students who are about to enter their senior year – so current juniors, I’d look to see if they’re offering it again next summer!
This year the program accepted 11 students: 3 from Ireland, 6 scatteredaround the USA, 1 from Brazil, and 1 from Colombia. While we all arrived at UCD not knowing a single person, we quickly forged friendships and have had an amazing time together! Of course, a lot of our time Mon-Fri is spent working on our research projects. These projects span a wide range of topics, including plant genomics, limnology, paleobotany, vertebrate palaeontology, soil ecology, ecological modelling (that’s mine!), and BioControl. We’ve all gained valuable research experience, whether it was designing your own protocol for studying the setae of earthworms, goingelectrofishing to survey the fish of a certain region, creating a model of ocean currents, designing primers to study plant DNA, putting nylons (yep, women’s tights!) on plants to act as dust and study the effects, or creating pterosaur wing models and using a wind tunnel to test their aerodynamics.
My own research project has focused on the study of deep-sea chitons and habitat connectivity. We’re especially interested in the dispersal of these chitons, which mainly takes place during their free-floating larval life stage. We’ve been using Argo oceanography data and a program called Matlab to map out the ocean currents of the Central Indo-Pacific near our populations of interest. With this data, we have been able to model larval transport, to determine where larvae from our source populations would disperse to. Through this project we’ve determined how far the larvae are able to travel before metamorphosing into adults, allowing us to better understand the dynamics of chiton metapopulations – something which is heavily understudied as of yet.
Of course, it wasn’t ALL about the research! We’ve had the weekends to ourselves, and we’ve made the most of it. We’ve traveled throughout the country to see many famous and beautiful places, such as the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, the Blarney Castle, the Giant’s Causeway, and Killarney National Park (amongst many others). And of course, we’ve spent endless amounts of time exploring all that Dublin has to offer. Between the beautiful botanic gardens, the Dublin Zoo, the massive Phoenix Park, the theatre, the nearby markets, the gorgeous shoreline, the nightlife, and of course the friends, it has been a trip to never forget!
Dubliners tend to be friendly people in general, which was a big help in getting around the city at first.Even on our first bus ride, someone happily told us which stop we’d need to get off at, as well as narrated all of the local sites we were passing! TodayDublin is a fairly worldly city, so while it’s not as typically “Irish” as most of the other cities are, it’s still a great place to explore. It also has some killer Indian restaurants! And of course there’s also a great nightlife!
And for anyone who has seen the movies Once or P.S. I Love You (yep sappy romances but of course we all had to watch them after being here!)… yep we’ve been to a lot of those sites! Even more lovely in person than they appear in the movies!
This whole summer has just flown by, just like it has for Josie! I’m leaving a week from today, and it seems way too soon!There’s somuch more I could still do and see here, my ten weeks was not enough to encompass it all. It’ll be a bittersweet homecoming, as all trips are. I’ll be glad to see my friends and share my experiences, but it will be hard parting from my new-found friends. Still, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we’ll all still be in close contact for years to come!
And if anyone wants a look at pictures -http://irishescapades2009.shutterfly.com/.
IBH class of 2010
IBH students travel the world, publish research papers, and do all sorts of amazing things