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Honolulu – a fitting place to present research on seabirds by Kaycee Morra

Tuesday, June 06th, 2017 | Author:

Mahalo to ESPP for granting me a travel award that facilitated my participation in the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) 2017 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii! I finished the analyses required for my dissertation mere weeks before the meeting began, making ASLO my first opportunity to give a talk—“Persistent Foraging Segregation Between Closely-spaced Seabird Populations”—that predominantly featured my own data. This was a significant achievement after four years of persistent effort in the lab, refining challenging techniques.

ASLO 2017 was held in the beautiful Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. By Kaycee Morra

ASLO 2017 was held in the beautiful Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. By Kaycee Morra

Although traveling from Michigan State University to Honolulu is expensive, I cannot imagine a more fitting place to present my research on the foraging habits of Hawaiian seabirds. Moreover, the ASLO meeting provided a rare opportunity to connect with my international colleagues. For example, I benefitted immeasurably from being able to discuss my results with Dr. Yoshito Chikaraishi, a leader in the field of stable isotope ecology who has already made valuable intellectual contributions to my project. In addition to informative scientific discussions like these, another highpoint of my trip was sharing a meal with my Japanese and Korean colleagues and their students. I have come to realize that no email, phone call, or video chat can cultivate the joy of collaboration as successfully as the stimulating, lighthearted conversation that accompanies a dinner with fellow scientists.
Given the cost of traveling to Honolulu, I made sure to make the most of my time there, even beyond all that ASLO had to offer. I visited Molly Hagemann, the Vertebrate Zoology Collection Manager at the Bishop Museum. In 2016, Molly granted me permission to sample some of the museum’s specimens. The Newell’s Shearwater samples I collected are an essential component of my dissertation. It was very rewarding to be able to return to the Bishop and share my findings with Molly, in person. Furthermore, Molly and I were able to discuss potential future collaborative research efforts.
It was an incredible experience to be able to gather with scientists from across the globe on the very islands that are home to my study species. When most of your science is done in a lab far removed from the beings you are attempting to conserve, it is an enormous pleasure to be able to get your boots on the ground and stay in touch with the source of your inspiration. While attending a meeting is always advantageous for young scientists, I was especially fortunate to be able to attend ASLO 2017 in Honolulu. Thank you again to ESPP for helping to provide this irreplaceable opportunity!

Kaycee Morra is a doctoral student in the Department of Integrative Biology. Her trip to the Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography was funded in part by the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University.

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