Scientists often cannot predict the directions their research will take – it is odd to think that such important decisions might somehow be out of our hands. But not infrequently an unexpected observation or opportunity will pull research into a new exciting direction – it is often the unanticipated results that are the coolest! In the case described in this Tide Bite, Jason Hodin had already spent years working at FHL and elsewhere on the west coast, on echinoderm development and larval behavior. He certainly never intended to become central to a captive breeding program for sunflower stars, a species that was regarded as a pest (e.g. by crabbers) before the wasting disease struck. But he was in the right place and with the right skillsets to tackle the complex processes of raising larvae and tiny stars through their early development – a critical bottleneck in any attempt to restore these populations. And his work has been greatly facilitated by the presence of FHL students who were delighted to have a chance to return and become engaged in this essential work.
Dr. Megan Dethier