I have been fascinated by the sea ever since I was a young child. Working for Dr. Lauren Sallan over the summer has therefore been an unparalleled experience as her projects have put a large focus on the evolution of fish species. Out of her multiple projects, I was particularly responsible for helping to create the first-ever late Cenozoic fish biodiversity database. In the future, this database will be used to see whether or not fishes have predictably responded to cooler glacial periods and warmer interglacial periods over the last thirty-four million years. Potential patterns such as these will not only hold important implications for how aquatic systems respond to environmental and climatic changes throughout time, but they will also lead to a better understanding of the origins of modern reef ecosystems and fish biodiversity.
In being a part of Dr. Sallan’s research team this summer, not only have I learned more about the fishes of our planet, but I have also learned more about the research process as a whole. While I collected data independently, I also worked closely with my colleagues both in the lab and during weekly lab meetings. We collaborated to solve problems and pinpoint important results. Moreover, this research opportunity served to hone my communication and interpersonal skills; it also truly called for creativity, patience, experimentation, and an open mind.
I will certainly take all of the skills and knowledge that I have acquired from this experience with me into the future. I will also continue to be a part of Dr. Sallan’s research team throughout this upcoming year, and this will only be an invaluable supplement to my academic journey. I couldn’t be happier that I chose to spend my summer researching here at Penn. I feel it has given me an advantage moving forward and even more importantly, it has opened my eyes to a world of opportunity in regards to future research experiences.