Joint Field Expedition, Peter & Rosemary Grant Style

Some big things are happening on the Freeman family front!

We have finally been able to organize and get money for a joint field expedition! Thanks to NSF IGERT and UCSD academic senate, we are leaving for Hawaii on Monday July 2 (5 days!) for four months of collaborations and field work.  Part of this expedition involves a research cruise to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands aboard the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai. We will be updating this blog regularly with stories and photos to keep our family and friends updated on what we are up to.

Here are the answers to some of the FAQs we receive about this trip.

We are BOTH doing science!  Simon’s project is about the ambient noise on coral reefs, and how it relates to how healthy the reef is. (Imagine walking through a forest- what can you learn from what you hear?)  He is bringing a variety of hydrophones- underwater sound recorders- that we will deploy while scuba diving.  Lauren’s project is about how the state of coral reefs vary around an individual island, to help downscale her large scale work for thinking about individual reefs.  She will be mapping reefs and collecting ecological data with transects.  That ecological data will help Simon too!

The itinerary and what we will be doing at each step:

July: We’ll be living in Oahu, where we rented a room in a house near Waikiki Beach that we’ll share with another professional.  Simon will be working with other scientists at NOAA and the Hawaiian Institute for Marine Biology, and Lauren will be wrapping up another project and getting a paper draft ready to submit.

August: We’ll be on a research cruise that goes from Honolulu to Midway, via the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, and back to Honolulu.  We will be in transit for more than half of the cruise, and when we are at an island we will be scuba diving to deploy Simon’s acoustic equipment and take surveys.

September: We are back in Honolulu.  Simon will be wrapping up his collaboration, and we will be collecting data around the island of Oahu.

Then, we will visit Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island for two weeks each to continue data collections.

All of our equipment is coming with us on the airplane!We are packing now, but we are planning to check 8-10 bags between us.  We have no idea how we are going to get around the airports with all of that luggage, but we will figure it out.

Who the heck are Peter and Rosemary Grant?

This is Peter and Rosemary Grant. They have achieved almost all of our goals in their lifetimes and we admire them greatly.

This is us. We hope to one day be as cool as the Grants.

(If you were in the Galapagos with Lauren and still asked that question, shame on you)

Peter and Rosemary Grant are two evolutionary biologists who are also married.  We know them through the popular book “The Beak of the Finch” (required reading for Lauren’s Galapagos field course in 2006), and because they received the Kyoto prize and gave a lecture at UCSD in 2010.  We are truly enamored with this couple, because in addition to doing excellent science, they work as a team, have joint publications, and run their field expeditions to the Galapagos Islands together.  They tell stories of carting their entire family to a deserted island for months, where their daughters would be ‘home schooled’ in between helping catch, measure, and tag the various species of finches found there.