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Name Hannah Lee Slep
Major Environmental Science (BS)
Expected graduation May 2018
Hometown Matthews, NC

Why did you want to go to the Morehead City Field Site?
I wanted an opportunity to get more hands-on experience and physical involvement in what I’m learning in a typical classroom setting. As a science major, I also wanted to see what field work and independent research would be like. IMS so far has already given me ample opportunities for me to explore not only the area and nature but personal interests in terms of what I may or may not enjoy in a future career. Shark tagging was certainly a neat experience, along with watching my first sea turtle excavation this evening – a dream come true! There is much to learn from the amazing professors to the surrounding marshes and islands with beautiful horses on them.

What specifically are you doing at the Field Site?
At IMS, Professor Lindquist is my mentor and we are analyzing water levels in the Beaufort area in relation to the widening inlet in the past 5 or so years. Currently I am retrieving data from NOAA tidal gauge stations from Maine to Florida (East Coast) in order to isolate Beaufort’s possible odd water levels and tidal ranges and see if any other stations are experiencing similar data. We will continue with making graphs out of this data in order to compare trends. These trends and statistics pulled from the data will help in establishing potential projections for water levels in the Beaufort area and also comparing these models to current NC models. This gathered data will ultimately provide further insight as to whether the Beaufort community should have more or less concern over rising water levels in the coming years.
 
What has been the most impactful experience you’ve had while at the Field Site?
So far, the shark tagging field trip has been most impactful because it was certainly the most adventurous in many ways. One was trying to hold back the encroaching feeling of seasickness. However, once we arrived to the appropriate location, I was excited to watch the experts prepare the bait and how they catch the sharks. The scientists on board gave us great background information and told us what to expect. After a suspenseful hour, they started pulling in the long line with several hooks dispersed along the line, and up came the sharks! They were so ominous yet beautiful. We mostly caught Atlantic Sharknose – they have these fierce eyes that were so intriguing. Many of us had the opportunity to hold them down on the measuring board, record data, tag them, and throw them back into the ocean. It’s an unforgettable experience.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from your experience at the Field Site?
So far, it’s to be open to any experience – even ones you think you may not like. You never know until you try. Being in a field site gives you so many opportunities to try new things, meet different types of people, yet all nerd-out about cool things happening in- and out-side of the classroom. When you’re more open, you’re more willing, and that’s when the magic happens. It’s an empowering space to be because you give yourself the opportunity to learn so much about you and what you want out of life.

Do you have any advice for other students who are considering going to the Field Site?
Do it. Get out there and get your feet dirty. You will only learn more, and the ‘more’ part is what you make it. Give yourself the space and time to get out of your comfort zone and learn new things in different ways.

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