As it turns out, science is characterized by great periods of sitting in front of a computer punctuated by brief but happy periods of not sitting in front of a computer. At the beginning of this month I had on offer to go down to San Diego and drive a small boat around in the ocean. I really do love such things, and take River Rat's utterances as gospel: "There's nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." So I jumped at the chance. Additionally, the project requiring the messing around in the boat is Dr. Jon Warrick's, who is the one person that I view as most responsible for setting me up in school, so I owe him a favor...or two.
So we found ourselves just off-shore of the Tijuana River, within spitting distance of the U.S.-Mexico Border (we were only accosted by burly armed coast guardsmen in fast inflatables one time!) repeatedly dunking expensive equipment into the ocean, eating cheese and crackers and doing everything in our power to keep ourselves engaged (data collection in oceanography is often not really that...stimulating). We were working quite close to shore, though, and on the days with swell imagining all of the horrible ways that I could wreck a government boat kept me pretty interested.
As the Coastal Hazards Specialist for Washington Sea Grant I spend my time on research, education and outreach on topics like chronic erosion, climate change, tsunami and other coastal hazards. Current projects include:
1) monitoring the shoreline of the Elwha River delta to detect changes due to the Elwha Dam Removal
2) Assessing the influence of climate change on the resources of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
3) Evaluating the impact of debris from the Tohoku tsunami on the shorelines of the Olympic Peninsula