Time capsule: Assisting ecological research

With a fresh degree in biology, my first job out of college was assisting in graduate research in Lake Champlain, Vermont. Working out of the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory I collaborated with students and professors in designing, deploying, and maintaining plankton ecology experiments–among other things.

What does scientific research have to do with digital product design? Well, nothing, directly anyway. But the two actually have a lot in common:

  • Observation
  • Forming testable hypotheses
  • Experimentation
  • Taxonomies and hierarchies
  • Distilling complexity
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Sketching
  • And most importantly–curiosity

Over the course of two years, I participated in several research projects. Between fieldwork and lab work, I learned a lot, made some great friends, and helped solve some interesting problems. Featured here are some highlights from the work.

Photo of an open journal with handwritten notes and drawings
Photo of an open journal with handwritten notes and drawings
Photo of an open journal with handwritten notes and drawings
Photo of an open journal with handwritten notes and drawings
Scientific poster titled "Long-term nutrient trends in three sections of Lake Champlain"
This scientific poster I spent way too long designing features some fancy graphic work that showcases long-term nutrient trends in Lake Champlain. Looking at it now–why didn't I put a date anywhere? 🤔
Photo grid showing the variety of different plankton species
These photos taken under a microscope showcase the beautiful diversity of a single genus of phytoplankton! 0_0
Taxonomy diagram of different phytoplankton
Modeling the taxonomy of the various phytoplankton we observed.
Photo of young Joe in a microscopy laboratory
Nerd.
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