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Adventures Journal: Under the Sea Exploring Deep Sea Environments

On December 15 TEDxBeaconStreet hosted a Deep Sea Adventure led by Peter R. Girguis, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University. Loads of people attended the event that was held at Harvard’s Biology Labs

Enjoy this great journal entry from Adventurer Glen Mohr:

Peter Girguis tried to manage our expectations by starting his lecture with a slide comparing what people think he does — training dolphins, protesting for animal rights, traveling to exotic locales and scuba diving— versus what he actually does: staring at data on a computer screen. But we didn’t let the warning diminish our enthusiasm and we weren’t disappointed.

Dr. Girguis is one of those gifted teachers whose passion for his subject is contagious for both adults and kids. We sat in the lecture hall far longer than a typical TEDxBeaconStreet Adventure promises but not one member of the 7-to-70-year-old audience wanted him to stop. He kept us engaged, sometimes laughing, sometimes amazed, sometimes struggling to comprehend, with stories about his journey from aspiring ophthalmologist to marine biologist, about the reproductive lives of angler fish (very different for male and female) and about why the lunch menu on the Alvin submarine hasn’t changed for 15 years. It’s doubtful there was anyone in the audience who didn’t, at least for a moment, wish they were this guy.

From the lecture hall we walked upstairs to the labs where Peter showed us his curiosity cabinet filled with rare and amazing specimens. We passed around jars containing a bathypelagic squid that keeps a lookout for predators with a large eye looking down and a small eye looking up, a corkscrewing jellyfish-like worm with eyes at the end of each frilly appendage, and a giant clam. Afterward, doctoral student Melissa Adams explained her research on methane-eating bacteria in the deep ocean sediment. We then walked outside to the high-energy physics facility where Dr. Girguis keeps his lab-in-a-shipping-container. There, a doctoral student showed us the lab that gets craned onto the research ship so she and the other students can study the sediment and sea life as soon as it gets brought up from the deep.

Never before have I felt so compelled to pursue a marine biology PhD. If the feeling lasts, I’ll know where to go!

– Glen Mohr

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