By Teal Barmore
At the end of January, researchers from the Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC), congregated with other researchers from around the state and beyond at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium held in the Captain Cook Conference Center in Anchorage. For three full days, there were 15-minute back-to-back presentations organized by geographic region with evening poster sessions, not to mention the countless meetings and workshops that take place at or around the event.
Several researchers from PWSSC presented their work, and many more attended to take advantage of networking opportunities. For research assistant, Caitlin McKinstry, AMSS is not just a meeting. “It is our time as scientists to talk to each other and to network and to find out what’s going on in their neck of the woods.” Every year at AMSS, PWSSC researchers fill in information gaps that give them a clearer view of the big picture for marine environments in the state and region. It gives them tools to think about their research in new ways.
Casual conversations between researchers working in different parts of the state are sometimes where science starts. Caitlin says it might be as simple as an off-handed question that one PI (Principal Investigator) might have to another like, “Oh, you know, I saw this going on in the Sound; is that going on with you guys?” It might be something they hadn’t even thought to look at and they think “Oh! We haven’t been looking at that, maybe we should.”
For Caitlin’s third year at the symposium, she looked forward to updates from various projects that she had seen in previous years, as well as touching base with researchers who she doesn’t usually get to see. She was especially excited about presentations by other plankton researchers that are part of the Gulf Watch Alaska Program, who are doing similar plankton work in Kachemak Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.
While all attendees will have an opportunity to network, a few PWSSC researchers also take advantage of the opportunity to present. In the first poster session on Monday evening, Rob Campbell presented a poster on his plankton camera and Maya Groner shared the latest from her disease work with Pacific herring. Later in the evening Kristen Gorman and Mary Anne Bishop were positioned at their poster featuring updates from their Tufted Puffin project.
To learn more about attending the Alaska Marine Science Symposium and to view the full abstract book visit: https://www.alaskamarinescience.org/
PWSSC research abstracts can be found as follows:
Maya Groner: A quantitative histological index to differentiate between endemic and epidemic ichthyophoniasis in Pacific herring
Kristen Gorman, Mary Anne Bishop and Anne Schaefer: Resolving the annual pelagic distribution of Tufted Puffins in the Gulf of Alaska: preliminary isotopic correlates of winter and summer marine habitat use
Rob Campbell: The PWS Plankton Cam: an in situ look into the zooplankton ecosystem of Prince William Sound