Saturday, January 17, 2015

Student post: Jimin Cheon - Tuesday, January 13

Jimin Cheon is a student at Northern Marianas College.

Today was our last day having ecology presentations/lectures and working on the group project. Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for...the presentation day! We will all be showcasing the findings from our research projects to the public. I can't wait to see what everyone has to share! The last three weeks have been a long rollercoaster ride. We all had ups and downs, trials and errors, but that is what made this course fun. As the end of this course is fast approaching, I have been getting some mixed feelings about it. I can't wait for this course to be over, so that I can get some rest from the intensive field work and research. But at same time, I don't want it to be over because I had so much fun, learned a lot of new things, and met many great people. I will miss this course and the people that made it awesome.

We started the morning off with an awesome presentation by Dr. Aubrey Moore from the University of Guam on invasive species in the Marianas and Guam. This was my favorite presentation out of all because I am really interested in the topic of invasive species. I think many people are overlooking the effect it can have on ecosystems, and this issue requires more attention from not only the scientists, but the whole public. Invasive speices, also known as exotic pests, are defined as alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause harm. A species can be moved unintentionally through cars, ships, and airplanes to new locations, where they do not belong. Guam is the perfect place for invasive species to flourish due to its warm climate and has little to no predators to most. It is amazing and concerning how out of the 4000 species that exist on Guam now, 400 of them are invasive. Many native species are now extinct because of the competition created by the invasive species. A big example is the loss of birds. Only 2 out of the 12 bird species on Guam survived, and they are now only seen in extremely localized areas. Another example is the loss of cycad plants; they used to be the most common plant at one point, but about 90% of them are gone now due to mostly the invasive scale insects. Some day, I want to work with invasive species, and do research on how to control them without posing a threat to the ecosystem.

After the invasive species presentation, Dr. Haldre Rogers gave us a presentation on how to give good presentations. I think it was very helpful because I was a bit nervous that I might do poorly on the presentation tomorrow. It provided us with useful tips on what to have or not to have in the presentation, how to interact with the audience, and how to deal with unexpected questions. I feel much more confident about the presentation than I was before. We were given time after the presentation to work on our presentation and grab lunch before the rehearsal. Though our time was limited, it seemed like everyone pulled through! The rehearsal was held at the actual location of the presentation. Though it was only our instructors watching us, I got really nervous. The comments given at the end was really helpful for the preparation of the actual presentation tomorrow. We were told that our presentation had all the essential components of a research presentation, but it needed to be made more generally interesting considering the fact that our audience is not a group of scientists. I am not too worried about it since we still have a day to prepare, and I believe in myself and my group mates. I am very thankful that Carey, Devin, and I work very well together without conflicts. This would have been very hard if we did not have teamwork.

We ended our day with a career panel composed of professionals from various areas of the ecology field. Some were in research, some were in outreach, some were in academia, and some were in conservation and management. It was great having a career panel in Guam as well as Saipan because we were able to interact with professionals from wider range of interests. We were also given a lot of scholarship, internship, and employment opportunities. It was really cool because everyone from this panel seemed to know each other very well, and told interesting life stories. I would like to work in an environment like that. Oh! We also got some cool pamphlets and fake tattoos of fruit bats! Awesome! Today overall was a very productive day. A bit tiring, but it was worth it! 

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