Science often progresses like assembling a puzzle out of many pieces. It’s hard to see the whole picture – and we can’t ‘cheat’ by looking at the box lid! Restoration workers, state agencies, and scientists are all concerned about the decline in bull kelp around the Salish Sea in recent decades, and are struggling to understand the causes. This likely is a complex puzzle involving kelp physiology (how it responds to warming waters, for example) and ecology (how it interacts with competitors and consumers, for example). This month’s Tide Bite, written by several students working at FHL with one research mentor, illustrates a great team approach for assembling the ecological side of this puzzle. Each student had their own corner of the puzzle to work on, giving them ownership of their efforts while they received training in conducting experiments and writing up results. We don’t have the ultimate answers yet, but every piece put in place gets us closer – and in the process, we give a boost to young scientists. Katie Dobkowski has successfully mentored many a student at FHL, often giving them their first taste of research and getting them hooked!
Dr. Megan Dethier