‘De una Isla a Otra’ (From One Island to the Next)

¡Hola a todos! My name is Adriana Guzmán Domínguez (Yes, I have two last names) and I study in the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, where I am currently pursuing a degree in Coastal Marine Biology, with minors in Microbiology and Chemistry. I’ll be starting my fourth year this fall, but I’m not graduating yet, still have lots to learn! I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and although I am an islander, my love for the ocean actually sparked in the United States, even though I always loved the beaches in PR. I visited an aquarium, where I fell IN LOVE with marine creatures. I was around 6 years old, so this passion has been going strong for a lot of years. As the years passed, I kept learning of the many branches of science that the ocean can bring us, and so I am brought to a struggle as to define my next focus in my academic (graduate) career, but I know its rests with the oceans and anything I can do to conserve and protect them. I had been looking for new opportunities where I could submerge myself into as much marine science as I could get, so this experience will definitely be an exciting one full of learning and discovery.
I will be working in Dr. Deana Erdner’s lab, which focuses on phytoplankton, and studies its interactions with bacteria. We will be focusing on the phytoplankton-attached bacteria, to find out and understand who is there, why are they there, and what they’re doing. But to be able to analyze these organisms and their interactions, we must separate them from everything else that exists in seawater, and that’s where I come in. My experiment is to find an efficient way to separate phytoplankton, specifically diatoms and dinoflagellates from every other particulate in the water. Our idea is to separate them using density gradients, where each group of organisms would fall on different parts of these gradients.
This is the longest I’ve ever been away from Puerto Rico, and my first time being without family or friends around, so I’ve been adapting a little more slowly than everyone else, (I had a little cultural shock) and because English is not my native tongue, I get a bit lost in translation, but this makes it an ever greater learning experience. Port Aransas is nice, nothing like I thought Texas would be (but we are on an island) and everyone here, all of my roommates and those who work here has been super friendly (which was something I was nervous about) but I am starting to like it here.  I am excited to see where this experience will take me, as I know it’s going to be a journey filled with personal and academic growth, and some new experiences with new friends that I’ll remember forever. From one island to the next, there’s always a new story to tell.

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