Experiential Learning #1
Marine Science Intern for Care for the Stranded - Learning Endings
Collaboration with the Henry Art Gallery
Summarize your proposed experiential learning activity, including the primary focus of your activity and whatever tasks or actions it entails:
As an intern with the interdisciplinary research project 'Learning Endings', I will photograph, record, and report on the flora and fauna of West Seattle's Lincoln Park over a three-month period to Lead Researchers (LRs) from UBC, USC, and SVA, working in collaboration with the Henry Art Gallery to develop a local education event in the early fall. Each month involves field site visits, where I will focus my time on photo-documentation of conditions at the site, followed by written and verbal reports on special occurrences/events via monthly virtual zoom meetings with the Lead Researchers. My documentation work is necessary for the accurate conceptualization and production of material for the LR's presentation event in September.
Explain how your activity demonstrates the values of the Honors Program Experiential Learning category you selected. Rather than reiterating our definition, outline how your activity embodies this definition. Why is this category part of the Honors values? Why does it matter? For example, if you are doing research, what tasks and activities are you performing on a daily basis, what IS research and how are those tasks connected.
The 'Learning Endings' project aligns very closely with the Research category of experiential learning. Not only does the project collect scientific research on cetacean strandings and climate crisis impacts on coast communities, but it also strives to be an incredibly interdisciplinary project as a whole. As a research intern, I will utilize BOTH my scientific background in marine ecology/organism identification, AND my artistic edge of photography and videography, to capture my observations for use by our lead researchers in their exhibition development for the Henry Gallery. This work will bring awareness to the urban community of our closeness to strandings and climate crises, and build a bridge between the sciences and arts locally.
How and why did you select this engagement? What skills or experiences do you hope to gain from it?
I was first introduced to this opportunity through my academic advisor for Marine Biology, who was well aware of my intersection of interest in the marine sciences and arts. In my application materials for the project, I put forward my history of formal education in marine sciences, but focused heavily on my desire to strengthen the communicator/artist side of myself in tandem to the scientific nature of the research project. What I wish to understand from my participation in this project is the power of communicating science through sometimes abstract or implicit mediums. Science can be so blunt, but I hope to hone my skills in scientific storytelling, and use human nature to my advantage when communicating pertinent information like this.
How does this activity connect to your concurrent or past coursework? How does it speak to your broader education goals and experiences?
This activity connects closely to my past and current coursework - I've received training in marine science and photodocumentation through my service with the Seattle Aquarium and my current work with Pacific Mammal Research. At UW, I've been taking classes related to the marine sciences field while working as a freelance and education material designer for local marine conservation organizations around the Puget Sound. I hope to one day use my biological science degree and communications/creative skills to make it in the science communication field of professional work. This opportunity combines my passions, and provides space for me to explore where my interdisciplinary approach lies in the larger and wider professional world.
How will your activity contribute to the larger goals of the organization/your partners?
Ultimately, my activity and deliverables will aid in the overall mission of the organization/project: increasing awareness of our local public surrounding marine mammal strandings, shoreline interaction etiquette, and the individual to systemic contributions to the climate crisis. Audiences will be able to understand their impacts on our marine ecosystems, and answer questions like: when is it appropriate to step in and intervene on marine mammal strandings? Can these be prevented? How am I influencing these strandings? This activity will also provide the Henry with locally-relevant material to share across the UW community and Seattle area as a whole. We must always consider how intertwined terrestrial and marine communities truly are.
Estimated hours per week: 8
Estimated project start: 07/01/2022
Estimated project end: 09/24/2022
"Samantha-Lynn was a strong addition to our research team, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with her this summer. As she has already summarized, the main task in this experience was to conduct independent visits to a field site and document the "ecologies" in place (in the most expansive sense of the word) and report back to the project team. This site has been chosen for an arts-sciences event in collaboration with the UW Henry Art Gallery, but since the lead researchers are not in Seattle, we required researchers on the ground to be our eyes, ears, fingers, and brains, as we came to understand this site and nature-culture interactions here better. Samantha conducted 6 extended field visits and participated in one individual and 3 group meetings, where she presented her field reports. These reports were exceptionally well organised, but moreover, the research itself was very valuable to our team. She displayed an excellent grasp of the task - which, it must be said, was not a conventional science student internship! - and offered insights that were both strongly grounded in her own research knowledge (biology) but spoke to the artistic and public event dimensions of the overall project. She brought additional reference materials to the table (e.g. seaweed identification guide) and followed up promptly and helpfully on all requests for additional information. I hope this experience provides Samantha-Lynn with a window into these kinds of arts-sciences professional collaborations, as well as into the mundane and practical details of organising this kind of event. I have high praise for Samantha Lynn and confirm that her contributions were highly valued by the whole team.