Double, double, oil and trouble

As you might have heard, there was an oil spill in Galveston bay that was caused by a ship and barge colliding, causing the barge to leak. Approximately 170,000 gallons of “tar-like” particularly heavy (density of 991 kg/m3), sticky oil, RMG 380, has leaked into the bay due to the collision.

Image courtesy of

While this may not seem like much compared to the 205.9 million gallons of light (density of ~850 kg/m3Macondo crude oil spewed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout of 2010, A) any oil spilled is too much oil and B) it comes at peak shorebird migration time. According to the Audubon Society, tens of thousands of wintering birds are still in the area and birds are already being impacted.

Piping plover population map. Image courtesy of


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Starting Up

I’m attempting to start my own business and it is right on the edge of moving from concept to start-up.

It has been difficult. As someone who recently graduated and has been unemployed (full-time-wise) for a little while now, I have had, and still am having, a hard time getting it up and going. I have little savings and am not eligible for traditional financing. I’m not setting it up as a non-profit, so grant-money is difficult to find. As a result, I’ve been focusing on what I can do with what I have while applying for grants and fellowships I’m eligible for.

But I want to start right now! So bad!

So here’s my business in a nutshell:

Name: Marine Science for Maine Citizens

URL: (the website is in its infant stages…advice welcome!)


  1. Tours of Maine’s unique rocky shoreline and tidepools – learn about the Gulf of Maine and take photos using portable, digital microscopes of tiny animals!
  2. Classes on scientific method, art in science, scientific writing, using free data software, etc.
  3. Co-working laboratory space for marine researchers and citizen scientists

The goal is to make science more accessible and use the Gulf of Maine, which is a local resource for many people, as a learning venue. It’s important for people to know how science is involved in such a resource and therefor, their everyday lives.

Where am I at now?

Everyone I’ve talked to seems to be very excited about the prospect of such a business.

I recently won $500 through a small business contest and will be using that money to purchase portable digital microscopes like the one I already own.

That means I’ll be able to start tours in May!

It’s going to take a while to get the laboratory/research part up and running. I need microscopes and light sources, tanks and all the trimmings (chillers, filters, etc.), calipers, refractometers and/or a YSI sounde, and many other marine science-y things. I want to do all of this now! Now! But then again, it’s STILL cold outside.

Researchers/citizen scientists may also contact me at the CONTACT link above if interested in renting lab space for research!

If this business venture sounds cool and you would like to donate, please click below. I’m also open to equipment donations. Please be advised that this is not a 501(3)(c) and your donation is not tax-deductible. However, think of it as an investment!

Donate Button

Pencast Introduction! (pt. 1)


So I discovered something new recently. I have this fancy schmancy new-fangled technology called a Livescribe Pen. What this pen does is transport my notes from special “dot paper” to Evernote through Wifi, where I can then have my physical notes in digital form. I can also record audio while taking notes and they will sync to each other.

I had the BRILLIANT idea to use this to express myself in a new way on my blog. Apparently that’s not a new thing for Livescribe pen users because this type of thing is called a Pencast. It’s essentially a podcast for your pen strokes. Which is pretty cool since I’m not extremely video-friendly.

My very first Pencast is a test. You can watch me grow and get better with them through time! This one is an introduction to myself in a scientific context. Below, you will find photographs of animals I’ve referenced in the pencast. Note: clicking on the image below will open a new window where you can view the pencast.

Science Megan Pencast

Ignoring my beginner status, isn’t that some cool technology? If you think so and want to get your own Livescribe pen, CLICK HERE to go to their website. By clicking on this referral link, you get 15% off any smartpen! Whoaaaa! Also I get a $15 Amazon gift card, which I promise I will use to support either my research or business


Bryozoans on Barnacles

Bryozoans on Barnacles

Thesis project slug: Corambe obscura

Thesis project slug: Corambe obscura

NRCC Cuttlefish

NRCC Cuttlefish

Musings on Mentorship

In addition to checking out Mendeley, I also participated in some good conversation about mentorship (#sciomentor) with folks at the #scio14 conference1. It got me thinking…

Formal/obligatory/mutualistic mentorships

This is the kind of mentor/mentee relationship that you’ll likely be looking at in grad school. You choose a mentor to study under because you are interested in their work, they accept you into their lab because your credentials look good. Your success or failure reflects upon your mentor and you get a boost to your CV.

Either good or bad, you’re likely stuck with a primary mentor throughout grad school. I can’t stress enough the importance of meeting your mentor beforehand so you can be more certain of how you’ll get along together. Ask yourself, “Disregarding their name and position in the field, can I really put up with this person for 2-6 years?

Informal mentorships: Kronos and the Unicorn


No, nooooo! All I wanted was your letters of recommendation!
Image courtesy of



a. Kronos: This mentor is very powerful and you would like nothing more than for him/her to be your mentor. Having this person guide you will be wonderful for your career, CV, networking, etc. Kronos thinks you have a lot of potential and has noticed your abilities. There’s just one problem. Kronos doesn’t want your abilities to surpass his/hers. And so does not mentor you in such a way to reach your full potential.


My perfect Unicorn. Look, she’s reviewing my manuscript!
Image courtesy of



b. The Unicorn: This mentor is also powerful. They respect your abilities and potential and recognize how their standing can move you up the ladder. Instead of taking away what power you may have, the Unicorn fosters it. He/she truly wants you to succeed and will guide you appropriately whether that is by offering you advice or reviewing your manuscripts.


So how do you avoid Kronos and find the Unicorn? My advice is to put out your feelers. Some really long ones. Be hesitant. My guess is that there’s going to be some ego involved. This potential mentor knows they’re powerful, but what they do with that knowledge is the key. How do they act? How do they talk to you and to others? Remember: feelers. This is like dating!



Unbalanced power is inherently present in mentor/mentee relationships for obvious reasons. #scio14 on Power Boundaries in mentorships

One last note.

You can think about mentorship like you think about diddling in the stock market. Diversify your investments. You can, and should have, more than one mentor. You can, and should have, mentors in varying fields. The possibilities are endless!

  1.  Is that not SO cool to be a part of a conversation at a conference and not physically BE at the conference? Also I learned how to do footnotes in WordPress! 

Just a normal weekend.

This weekend I discovered something amazing. Something so revolutionary and so life changing that it will….change…my… life. I am truly a wordsmith.

I found Mendeley.

Now let me tell you something. I bought Endnote as a grad student and I thought that was revolutionary because now I could keep track of all my scientific papers in PDF form and have their citations. And then I could cite my references in Word with Endnote’s nifty plug-in. There was one annoyance with it though, and that was being able to use the program on two computers. I had to do everything to do with Endnote on one computer because it gets too complicated transferring my library over every time I add a new citation. It didn’t sync with “the cloud”. It also (my version anyway) doesn’t include a PDF viewer where you can take notes directly in the program. This has been a huge barrier for me.

But with Mendeley you have both a desktop program and an online account and they sync together. That includes your attached PDF files! I’m going to list the advantages of Mendeley that I’ve found so far while working with it.

Mendeley desktop

Mendeley SS

  • The program’s organization is highly intuitive and easy-to-use
  • Upload a PDF article and it parses out the Title, Authors, Journal, etc.. If it feels it needs review, it will tell you to review it. If the citation needs review, it will give you the option to search Google Scholar for the article by title and it will automatically populate the fields with information it finds (see orange message on top right of pic above)
  • You can import libraries from Endnote and other citation managers
  • It syncs with your online Mendeley account
  • You can email papers you have to other people through the program
  • The “Related” button will, well, search for related papers based on the currently selected citation. It’s like Pandora for science!
  • It comes with a PDF viewer (one of my favorite features by far)
    • Take notes, annotations, and highlight information on the PDF directly in the program. All notes and annotations are searchable.

Mendeley SS2

Mendeley Online

  • See everything in your desktop library online and click to view papers on the desktop program
  • Join groups who have the same interests – good for finding similar articles and sharing your citations and papers
  • Search for papers and add their citations. If the paper is open-access, download the full-text
  • Add contacts/colleagues and share citations
  • All of this information, including citations from groups and contacts, are synced and can be viewed in Mendeley desktop

It might be obvious at this point – I highly recommend this program!

Oh, and I missed the most important thing about it. IT’S FREE.