A dozen Brigham Young University biology students spent the entire month of May studying marine biology at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.
Dr. Russell Rader led the group of 10 students and two teaching assistants on the month-long journey.
“Nothing can quite compare to actually field experience in any field,” graduate biology student and teaching assistant Riley Rackliffe said. “It’s rare for an inland university to have a chance to hold class in a tide pool crawling with biodiversity.”
The OIMB is located on the shores of Coos Bay and offers easy access to many different marine life environments along the Oregon coast. Professors hold classes in buildings on the campus in addition to being able to explore ecosystems a few steps away. [media-credit name=”Riley Rackliffe” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
“One moment we’d be looking at all of the organisms and then we’d go back to the classroom and learn more stuff about them that I had no idea about,” said Carrie Ingram, a biology education major from Walkersville, Maryland.
Lexi Balleck, a junior studying biology conservation, said she felt the trip fit her style of learning.
“I am very much a hands on learner so I loved getting to actually go out into the ocean and seeing all the animals and the things we are learning about instead of just sitting in the classroom,” Balleck said. “We got to go play with everything we were learning about. It was a lot of hands on, playing with the animals and seeing the coast and everything.”
Students were able to experience unfamiliar terrain and discover new caverns of mother nature.
“I’ve grown up on the east coast my entire life and there were animals that I didn’t know could even exist,” Balleck said. “There were star fish larger than my face and an octopus that weighed 100 lbs. I thought that was really neat and I didn’t expect to see that.”
Former BYU professor, Dr. Lee Braithwaite began the annual excursion to the northwest a number of years ago but retired in 2011. This year BYU students joined three other universities at the OIMB lead by professors who all got their start under Dr. Braithwaite.
“It’s an excellent chance to rub shoulders with biology students from other universities,” Rackliffe said. “You wouldn’t expect BYU to have a marine biology opportunity like this. It was absolutely fantastic.”