I think I figured out a name for my first paragraphs of every post. POOP! "Personal Or Other Paragraph"...I mainly just want to tell people that I finished my weekly POOP and watch the concerned look on their faces. Bonus, I get to explain to them that I have a blog and that they need to check out my website to read it. For this weekʻs POOP: This past Wednesday was momʻs birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! We didnʻt do much the day of. Dayton (my son) and I made her a card, Dayton sang her happy birthday, I cooked some breaky, went to work, then booked it back home to make her dinner. We are planning a family dinner get together, but my older brother is busy doing magic tricks at Hogwarts and watching fireworks with Mickey, so weʻre waiting for him to get back. On the weekend, I took mom to the Stylistics Concert. It was actually better than I thought it was gonna be. I actually enjoyed the first 30 minutes of the concert...but, then it started to get to me. Old people have such "unique" smells! From super flowery perfumes to tiger balm to kim chee farts to unbrushed teeth...ugh, Iʻm surprised I made it through the whole show without passing out!
Anyway, back to work life stuff...Laʻa had his first day! Geez, this boy is tall! I knew him from this program that I co-instructed this past summer, but I didnʻt realize (or maybe just didnʻt remember) how tall he was! I kinda feel bad that he has to sit at such a small desk with a small chair. Still awaiting the lab, so we had him do some inventory. The first day, we inventoried the samples in the -80 freezer. We were long done with inventory when we started to hear an alarm going off. I stuck my head out from under my super sick bose headphones (yes, the alarm was that loud) and poked my head out of the office. I couldnʻt tell where the alarm was coming from, but it didnʻt seem like it was the building alarm, so I just sat back down. The alarm continued for a couple more minutes when an irritated looking post-doc (at least I think she was a post-doc) knocked on my office door. I smiled, she angry faced, I question faced, and then she said, "your freezer is freaking out, fix it", and make her soul-sucking exit. Did I mention how great I am at making friends? I fixed it in less than four seconds with a push of a button. Turns out the freezer has an alarm that sounds if the temperature goes above -60...this was an awesome way to find out!
Besides that incident, the only exciting work stuff is my continuous upgrade to my office space (and the random pirate ship that enters the harbor occasionally). Not sure if I already mentioned this, but I will eventually have to share this space with our Labʻs new post-doc, who is flying in towards the end of the month. I probably shouldʻve waited for her to get here before decorating our office, but sitting in a plain office for over a month wouldʻve made me want to jump out of the window (and into the beautiful turquoise ocean below). I did bring in a toaster, kettle, some tea, and a printer, which I guess I could take home, but who would really want that, right? I also left her with the biggest desk and that whole side of the office is untouched, so Iʻm hoping sheʻll be cool with my stuff. Oh, I also brought in our new mascots! Theyʻre little shrimps called ʻōpaeʻula, which is totally relevant since some of our sample sites have ʻōpaeʻula living in them. We only have three and I havenʻt thought of names for them, yet, but Iʻll update you once we do.
As for the other aspect of my job, the Fridays one, we had our first monthly meeting on Friday. It was a pretty awesome one. Introduced myself to a bunch of familiar faces, and after the logistical junk, we did some Hawaiian culture based activities. We grounded and focused ourselves with a discussion about piko, then we learned a new chant (one that is now my new favorite), and had a very interesting discussion about the many meanings of Ea. All super fun things! With that said, these monthly meetings are marketed as professional development meetings, but the professional development was very different from what Iʻm used to. I did enjoy it very much, but did realize that the development is very tailored to a cultural perspective. Donʻt get me wrong, I think itʻs great and awesome and more things should be done that is tailored to cultural perspectives, especially in Hawaiʻi. I honestly feel that itʻs very important to understand things from as many different perspectives as possible, but a lot of professional settings are pretty far behind in that aspect. I do feel that a cultural understanding of place is important when conducting research in a culturally driven area, like Hawaiʻi, but I donʻt think it should be the only focus when we are teaching young, local students to become professional, local scientists. I chose this position and Iʻd like to think I was accepted for it because I do have a unique outlook on being a cultural, local scientist. I wasnʻt asked for my input when the meeting was planned and Iʻm assuming thatʻs due to the fact that I just started this position last week, but Iʻm really hoping the next meeting will have more than just the cultural aspect of professional development. Heck, maybe Iʻll just throw a suggestion that way and see where it falls...
Our ʻōpaeʻula mascots...the third one is hiding under the cowrie
I have a new job!!!! Well, a new Friday job. Actually, the kind of job I decided on kinda means I have to work more than just Fridays, but weʻll see how it goes. This might turn into a weekly thing where a drop a tidbit of wisdom on you, but I feel like it best for my readers (Hi, Mom!) to understand some things before jumping into my weekly updates. This week, I met a lot of new people and realized that my name may be hard to say...again, go make friends with a Hawaiian! Since youʻre awesome enough to be reading this, you get a lesson. This (ʻ) mark is called an ʻokina, itʻs basically a glottal stop, which means my name is pronounced as KOO-stop-EE, not KOOWEE! If this doesnʻt help, just call me by my English name, Mel. Consider yourselves lucky that I donʻt go by my full name and learn how to pronounce my shortened name or use my English name!
Okay, back to the really exciting stuff...my new job! If you read my post from last week, you know that I started my new lab tech job, which is M-Th at the Kewalo Marine Lab (KML), and that I was tasked with creating a new job for my Fridays at UHM. Iʻm really stoked on both jobs, but my KML job has been a little slow going. Our actual lab space is still under construction, so my first official, non-paperwork/logistical day was spent cleaning our new office space. It was very recently evacuated, and you could really tell that the person left in a whirlwind because the place was SO filthy! Iʻm the first person from our lab hui that has officially started, so I was the lucky one who had to clean the place. Ugh, it was so gross...SO. MUCH. DUST. *Bright-side, I got first dibs on desk space and took the best view (SO not sorry)! Our newest member, Laʻa Aliifua, an Ike Wai Undergrad Scholar, starts next week and although I love my new view and new office, I could really use the company.
Itʻs currently Friday and the position that I pitched to my Supervisor was accepted! For those of you that know me, you know that I can owe a big part of my science career to the magnificent, Keolani Noa. She found me almost exactly 1 week after giving birth to my, now 5 year old, son. Her family has been involved in my familyʻs lives for a very long time, but I personally havenʻt seen her since I was in 8th grade. My parents, especially my mom, have taught me how to be a strong individual/mother, a smart student, and a proud Hawaiian, but, in recent years, Aunty Keolani Noa taught me how to be a stronger mother, a smarter student, and a prouder (yes, thatʻs grammatically correct, look it up) Hawaiian. She kept me going at my weakest points and inspired me to be a Native Hawaiian Scientist, and not to settle for being just a Native Hawaiian doing science. She has inspired me in so many ways and so many times that I designed my job around what she has done for me.
The program that I was hired for is being funded by an Hawaii EPSCoR (under NSF) grant and is called Ike Wai. This program is multifaceted, but mainly focuses on Hawaiiʻs fresh water and bridging Hawaiian knowledge with western science methods by working hand in hand with scientists, indigenous communities, and academic communities. Part of the program introduces undergrads to the world of scientific research. A lot of the selected undergrads are local/Native Hawaiian students at a community college, which is exactly who and where I was when Aunty Keolani found me. It is super important for local scientists to conduct local science. We were born and raised here and we know our "place" the best, so who better to do our local research than local people? This can be extremely difficult due to cultural and personal differences. I have a unique understanding of what itʻs like to be a local/Native Hawaiian with both cultural and personal struggles (single mom, here!) from a CC, who practically lives on the bridge of culture and science. Therefore, I am the new Ike Wai Undergraduate Scholarsʻ science and culture support staff! Check back next week to see how my first Week with Laʻa went and my first day meeting all the new Scholars!
Top Left: Me in my dust mask, Top Right: This isnʻt even half of the filth, Bottom Left: Lab is literally still under construction, Bottom Right: I stole the best view!
Since Iʻm new at this, these are going to be weekly, heck maybe even monthly if I canʻt get my shizz together enough to write weekly. And yes, my swearing will be PG based (Iʻm a mom, itʻs all I know). Oh, and if youʻre wondering why my "apostrophes" are weird looking, make friends with a Hawaiian...my keyboard is always in Hawaiian language mode, so deal with it.
Anyway, I left NOAA this week. You know, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the guys that warn us about global warming, sea level rise, hurricanes, coral reef death, and all those other morbid, but very real, near future news...yeah, THAT NOAA. I had some really conflicting feelings about it. I loved that job...well, most of the time. Well, the times I wasnʻt stuck on a computer all day, I loved my job. For those that donʻt know (and for those that are too lazy to read the rest of my website), I was a Laboratory Technician on the ARMS project. ARMS stands for Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures. Theyʻre these really cool 10in x 10in ("ish"-they were really 23cm x 23cm) tile-like plates that are stacked 8 high. The project that I was on had ARMS mounted on a bunch of different reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean. Essentially, they were like an artificial reef. Things grew and lived on and between the plates. Theyʻd be collected every three years or so and brought back to the lab for processing. The organisms that were big enough to see were identified to the lowest taxonomical group and the organisms that were almost impossible to see were given to me. When I got my hands on the samples, they looked like nothing more than sand and silt, very stinky, but pretty much just looked like sand and silt. I extracted the DNA, ran a butt load of PCRs and other shizz, then sent them off for sequencing. And, please donʻt misinterpret my "and other shizz" for anything easy because for those other crazy people out there that work with DNA/RNA, you know that the "and other shizz" can be the most difficult and time consuming part of the processing steps.
Without getting too science detailed, that was pretty much the gist of what I did. I know it may not sound that fun to most of you (yes, Mom and Jennifer, Iʻm talking to you), but I absolutely loved it! I left for what I felt was a much better opportunity (for the position Iʻm in), but when I left, I was told that the ARMS project might be on hold for a while. There wasnʻt really anyone to take my place in the lab, nor did they really have much funding (thanks, Trump), so until they found the funds and hired someone new, it would be at a standstill. I mean, they would still be collecting ARMS from the ocean, but the lab processing would be placed on hold. So much time and effort was put into the project that I sort of felt unfulfilled and a little sad knowing that the project would be left in limbo for a bit. Iʻm hoping they find someone to take over soon. Actually, now that I told the world how bummed I felt to leave NOAA, I do feel a whole lot better. On to greener fields, I guess!
So, today, September 1st, was my first day at my new job. I didnʻt really do much, mostly just a bunch of Research Conduct training, which really needs to be updated to something much less draining, and a few meetings. Majority of my duties at my new job is working as a lab tech, M-Th, in the Lab Hui O Frank out of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory (more info to come once I get started). Fridays, Iʻm supposed to spend at UH-Manoa doing "professional development". When I accepted the position, I wasnʻt sure what that meant. After today, Iʻm pretty sure no one really has a specific definition, which isnʻt as bad as it sounds. What I mean is, they are sort of letting me choose what I want my job to be (*stoking!). Thereʻs no specific definition for "professional development" because itʻs unique to the person. I was really taken back by being able to basically create my own job. I can do whatever I want to do, so long as it benefits my future. They even offered to let me take courses at UH, which "ew, barf", but still, really cool! Itʻs a lot to think about, so I have a week before I need to get back to anyone about what job I want to create. Check back next week to find out what I created. "Eeek! Exciting!!!"