Time is money: The value of opportunistic sampling

NOTE: This article is a reposting on one originally posted on the UNOLS Chief Scientist Workshop website (here) with slight modifications. Aboard the R/V Sikuliaq we often run around-the-clock operations and do our best to collect every last bit of data. Not only is our time limited, but ship time is valuable—really valuable. Even if you did manage to make the absolute most of the available ship time, there are inevitably gaps when the vessel is transiting from station to station, the equipment requires attention, or the weather limits safe science operations. This is where instruments that sample continuously come...

Learning to Drive the Boat: the Start of Chief Sci Training

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the terminology used for scientific, research cruises; a chief scientists is the de facto boss of the science party and coordinates the research plan with the captain and crew of the ship. This role often incorporates traits from other positions such as diplomate (between crew and science party), translater, and decision maker into one thankless role. Since this position requires skills outside of those which are traditionally taught in graduate programs, the National Science Foundation has sponsored a program to train young and advancing scientists. This Chief Scientists Training Cruise (CSW) involves seminars...

Back out to Sea

The eve of my departure is finally here, yet I am feeling less sanguine than expected. More than likely, it has something to do with the length of these upcoming travels and the scale from which I see them. besides, I’ve never found the easy uncertainty and the foreshadowing calm very easy or calming, I’d rather get into the thick of it already. This cruise will take three weeks, and following fresh on its heels comes another cruise. For the first one I’ll be measuring carbon export across a frequently sampled study region consisting of 73 stations and covering nearly...

Trial Week, Part 2

A few months ago I wrote up an article about what I call a Trial Week. It is a week where you break free from habits and take part in a personal experiment. The only real good is to live your life during that week a bit differently and come away from it with a new perspective and experience to make you’re day-to-day life a bit more fulfilling. Quite simply it is an opportunity to realign yourself towards the life you want to live. Trial week, part 2. Not only was my own experience from my trial week experiment great, but so...

First Impressions of Shiny, an R Package

Today I wanted to try something new; so instead of discussing a project, let’s briefly take a look at an R Package I’ve recently discovered. Before we being let me just mention that I realize not everyone uses R or have even used it before, instead my focus here will be on the technology, innovation, and utility of the package. Hopefully there are analogs libraries or packages in other languages, and if not then perhaps you’ll want to write it! Shiny, quite simply, is an R package that allows a user to write R code and generates an interactive webpage....

The benefits of interdisciplinarity: residence time

The so-called residence time of a system is both an immensely useful and highly intuitive conception which provides a relevant timescale for processes. For example, the residence time of nutrients flowing into a pond would be the average ‘lifetime’ of the nutrients before being taking up by the pond creatures. If it is a small number, then the nutrients are taken up very quickly compared to if is a large number. Here is the “traditional” formula for calculating residency time of a conservative tracer:     The more mass that’s in the system the longer the residence time becomes; and...

Julia Language for Scientists

Today I wanted to take a moment and introduce a programming language to my friends and colleagues. While certainly not a common topic, I do so because I believe that it is well worth your time. Rather than trying to get non-programmers into a language, I write this for the already initiated such as those who use Matlab, R or Python (amongst others) since the real benefits of learning one language rather than another comes when the tasks at hand are limited by the language itself. For example, consider if you’re problem or task (such as a model) was required...

Data Compression: Benchmarking Performance on Generic Data

Data compression is one of those things that most people don’t really think about. We all know about the benefits of using a ZIP file if our attachment is too large or if we have a bunch of files we want to share with someone over email. Outside of those niche uses, data compression by the end user has largely fell by the wayside in our day of terabyte hard drives and massive USB dongles. And that may be just as well since we’re likely more productive not having to go through the extra step of unpacking an archive before using...

Why I’m looking forward to moving out of the south

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my past year and a half, almost two years, living in Tallahassee. The often forgotten capital of Florida has served me well and I’ve made friends down here that I wouldn’t sacrifice for anything, yet I already know that my days down here are limited. After having grown up in Massachusetts and attending undergraduate at Boston College, it took a bit of adjustment when I first moved down here in January of 2015. Since then I’ve gotten to know the city through my weekend adventures, during those beers after work, and on the trips...

Getting Started in 3D Printing

As someone who enjoys working on projects and tinkering with everything from computer systems to welders, I’ve always had a passive interest in 3d printing technology; yet I never seriously considered getting a one for myself. 3d printers work in much the same way a normal printer does, except instead of ejecting ink out of the nozzle it extrudes molten plastic. By layering these thin layers of plastic (typically 50-500 microns) over and over again it can build up entire objects in a matter of minutes to hours. It’s a simple technology which seems to have only recently gained the critical mass...

Call me Ishmael: Seahab

Living on a ship for three weeks means that you pick up a few tidbits of knowledge such as the difference between tieing a bend and a hitch, but a term that is rather unique to sailing on National Science Foundation (NSF) vessels is Seahab. All research vessels control the supply of alcohol on board, and thus the intake of alcohol while at sea (personal caches are not permitted). Many ships will serve a beer with dinner or provide a coupon for a drink at some other time. NSF has taken the extra step of making all of their vessels...