NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard US Coast Guard Ship Healy
April 20 – May 15, 2007
Mission: Bering Sea Ecosystem Survey
Geographic Region: Alaska
Date: April 12, 2007
Ray Sambrotto is the PI (principal investigator) for this expedition. His job, besides doing investigations in the lab, is to coordinate the entire BEST mission. He has to meet daily with the Coast Guard Officers, check accountability and coordinate sampling, but there is a lot more. He is constantly on watch to fix potential problems that might arise. And they do arise.
So we needed a point of contact, to run communication and requests between the very busy scientists and us. David Hyrenbach, from the University of Washington, is acting as our liason with the scientists on the BEST cruise. There are so many scientists and so many projects, we needed organization to help us learn who is who doing what and when and maybe why.
He steered us in the direction of creating a table of rotation visits to the various scientific teams on board. We used the theme of ‘Energy and Matter Transfer Through the Ecosystem.’ We divided all the teams into where they fit in the ecosystem.
But in reality, it doesn’t work that way. Some scientists might have equipment malfunction. Some might have sample contamination or lack of a sample. There are many ways things can go wrong. And they do. When that happens, they go to a holding pattern and regroup. All scientists suffer setbacks. It matters not that you have had extensive meetings, done problem solving, and communicated with everyone that needs to know. This is science. And anything that might happen will happen.
In science, you need to have a backup plan, and then another backup plan. If something happens to Plan A, continue the experiment with Plan B. If Plan B goes down, take up Plan C.
After all, this is science.