Living in California for my entire life has given me an appreciation for how varied its environment is. I always wanted to learn more about the world around me; how did all these things that I could see and touch come to be? As a child, I loved learning about geology, meteorology, and astronomy, as they were both fascinating and easy to experience. I always knew that I wanted to go to college and study science, though it wasn’t so simple in reality. I have always been employed while in college to support myself and had generally struggled with choosing a major/focus. Before transferring to UC Davis, I spent 7 years at junior colleges as I divided my time between work and school and learned what I wanted to do. 5 of these years were spent at Santa Rosa Junior College in my longtime home of Sonoma County, where Bodega Marine Laboratory is also located. By the end of these 7 years, I had gone through my own journey of self-discovery and found myself drawn to climate change.
I discovered the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Prof. Hill’s paleoclimate research shortly before transferring and knew right away that I wanted to be involved. Coming back to my home in Sonoma County this past summer to study oceanography at BML was very rewarding. The class informality and discussion-based learning encouraged us to think critically, but freely, about our studies. Conversations with anyone, whether it was staff, faculty, or other students, felt collaborative and comfortable. The purpose of being at BML wasn’t to find all the correct answers, but instead to be curious, explore interesting ideas, and to think about why we observed the phenomena we saw. The instructors showed that the oceanography was highly interdisciplinary and did not fit neatly into any one subject. By nature, this subject emphasizes collaboration and interaction with people from different backgrounds. As a lone geology major amongst a class of environmental scientists and biologists, I saw how we each had much to learn from each other. We cannot be expected to know everything as we each move forward in our educations and careers, however our specializations and collaboration help to broaden our understanding of what it is that we each do. For me, I was curious to know how climate change was studied across disciplines and not just in the areas of greatest interest for me.
Like oceanography, climate change as a subject is very interdisciplinary and comes in many different, but related, forms. Our understanding of climate change comes from geochemical, atmospheric, and of course, oceanographic, studies, to name a few. I had some understanding of how these things were related, as I had taken paleoclimate and oceanography courses at UCD before coming to BML, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to focus on climate change to meet my own academic goals. My goals at BML were mainly exploratory, to learn how I could apply what I had learned to research and refine my academic goals moving forward. Doing research in the Hill Lab gave me an opportunity to see how research in paleoceanography links to climate change.
My research project consisted of studying the relative abundances of foraminifera, or forams, to reconstruct paleoceanographic change off the coast of southern California during the Holocene. Studying forams is one of the major ways in which paleoceanographic and paleoclimate research is conducted, as they provide clues to environmental changes in their shell chemistry or relative abundances. Forams use materials from the water to create calcium carbonate shells, preserving the state of the ocean at that time. When they die, their shells are preserved as microfossils in the seafloor sediment and become an important natural record, or proxy, for environmental change. Studying past climates and environments provides context for modern climate change and Holocene paleoclimate research in general can help us know what to expect in the future.
These forams, and the paleoclimate work that I love so much, remind me that all things change and that there is always more that we can learn and do. It is by understanding our past that we know why we are where we are now and from which we may have insight for the future. I am grateful to the BML community for the opportunity to learn more about oceanography, to take what I had learned to conduct a research project, and for allowing me to grow as an aspiring researcher.
Kimberly is currently at senior at UC Davis, majoring in Geology.
For more student perspectives on research at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab, see below!
- March 2019
- October 2018
- Dec 18, 2017 Ocean Optimism: People Who Bring Us Hope Dec 18, 2017
- Dec 15, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Special Ocean Habitats, and Our Pledges... Dec 15, 2017
- Dec 15, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Hope for Coral Reefs Dec 15, 2017
- Dec 12, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Endangered Species Making A Comeback Dec 12, 2017
- Nov 29, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Marine Protected Areas Lead the Way Nov 29, 2017
- Nov 25, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Leadership from communities, states, and countries Nov 25, 2017
- Nov 16, 2017 Ocean Optimism: Raising Awareness Nov 16, 2017
- Nov 6, 2017 Ocean Optimism: The Problem of Plastic Pollution in the Ocean Nov 6, 2017
- Oct 26, 2017 Jonas: Exploration, innovation and collaboration in marine science Oct 26, 2017
- Oct 3, 2017 Ocean Acidification: Problems & Solutions Oct 3, 2017
- Oct 3, 2017 How do we protect ocean animals that drift with currents? Oct 3, 2017
- Jul 31, 2017 Jackie: Following stepping stones to environmental conservation Jul 31, 2017
- May 11, 2017 Linda: Understanding sea level rise in the past & future May 11, 2017
- May 5, 2017 Gabi: A personal legacy of commitment to marine science May 5, 2017
- Apr 7, 2017 Mimi: Dissolving Intertidal Organisms & Effects of Ocean Acidification Apr 7, 2017
- Dec 3, 2016 Adam: Studying past climates through (micro) fossils (Part I) Dec 3, 2016
- Dec 3, 2016 Adam: Studying past climates through (micro) fossils (Part II) Dec 3, 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- Aug 23, 2016 Laura: A future teacher experiences marine research Aug 23, 2016
- Aug 17, 2016 Adam: Reflecting on the Past, in Years & Kiloannums Aug 17, 2016
- Aug 13, 2016 Amanda: Testing the waters in ocean chemistry Aug 13, 2016
- Aug 1, 2016 Grace: Carrying on a tradition of environmental stewardship Aug 1, 2016
- Jul 21, 2016 Walker: Seagrass, sediments, and a future in marine science Jul 21, 2016
- Jul 19, 2016 Welcome to the student research blog! Jul 19, 2016