Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Well, I'm officially back at home - and having a hard time getting back to my 'normal' life! I'm so excited about everything we accomplished over the weekend, and getting started on my research - its so difficult to come back to reality! Hehe. Of course, I need to hurry up and snap out of it because I have tons of stuff to do in order to prepare for our next trip to Wallops in just 2 weeks! Not to mention all of the homework I have to finish...yikes!

Tom's Cove at Assateague

I decided to give myself today as a 'day off' (HA-HA)...meaning I didn't bother showering, getting dressed, or unpacking any of my bags yet. And its 3:00 p.m. Instead, I got straight to work on tackling my four-page to-do list...yes, four pages... of action items we put together on the 5-hour drive home last night! Sheesh. The only thing I didn't actually get done yet today is start working on my personal equipment list. Its looking like I might be purchasing a wetsuit in the near future..... and I reallllly want these shoes...can you believe they're water shoes???!.... but I'm not sure I can justify spending $100 on shoes. Maybe if we get a little grant money.... hehe.

I need a whole slew of other field clothes and gear...I'll be collecting data basically every month for the next year, and then every other month after I definitely need sun protection, rain gear, super-warm clothes (its sooooo cold and windy right now!), probably a wetsuit (yep, I'll have to get in the water in December), and various other things that I'll just have to figure out after spending a little bit of time in the field.

So I guess some of you might be wondering exactly what the heck it is I'll be doing? Haha! a nutshell: NASA is going to be extending an existing rock sea-wall, as well as doing some beach nourishment (dredging sand from offshore and putting it on the beach). They asked for someone to monitor various aspects of the shoreline and figure out what impact, if any, this shoreline engineering is/will have on the sand budget (how much erodes and how much is deposited), the organisms that live in/on the shore (clams, crabs, sea turtles, endangered Piping Plovers). There are a total of 4 faculty from 4 separate Pennslyvania state system universities (mine included!) working on various projects that answer some aspect of NASA's research question. My part (which is going to be my Master's thesis, by the way) is to create a beach profile using a Total Station (those tripod things that you see road surveyors using), and also a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to examine the fresh groundwater that is under the beach. The idea is that the island's groundwater system (which is kind of important!) may fluctuate drastically in response to the shoreline engineering that NASA will be doing over the next year. The organisms that live on the beach may be impacted if there are changes in the sediment supply and/or in the size of the beach sediments.

So....its kind of complicated, but I think its really interesting! I get to spend all day on the beach. Oh! And I have assistants! Right now I have 3 undergrads from another university...and we're looking for 1 or 2 more from my university. Not sure just who we want yet, but...I'll have reign over a small army of geoscientists soon. ;-)

The only downsides that I see right now are that a) I will have wayyyy less free time (but I like being busy!) and b) I will be in scientist-mode most of the time, which means dressing very differently than I would normally...comfort is key! Haha. However, I am a beach-bum at heart, and the majority of my closet, until only a couple of years ago, was surfshop chic ;-)

I'm really thinking about buying some stuff from the O'Neill 24/7 technical line...
Correction, I JUST BOUGHT some 24/7 stuff. Necessary!!

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