During the summer of 2010, I participated as an undergraduate research assistant to a marine biology doctoral candidate. Her research took us to Jekyll Island. Here, we catalogued sea turtle hatchling movement through the sand to study their amphibious mobility. As an undergraduate research assistant, I was responsible for taking simple field notes. Sitting on the beach at night underneath the stars, waiting for the sea turtle eggs to hatch in the nest nearby, I learned about my interests, career desires, and academic goals. It was on the beach in Jekyll Island that I realized I did not want to become a marine biologist. Instead, I wanted to write about the experience in a way that others could understand and appreciate. While the sciences continue to intrigue me, I learned that summer that I did not want to study one niche field within the sciences. Rather, I wanted to explore the entire discipline at a high level--something only writing and rhetoric would enable me to do.
I journaled the experience throughout the summer. It was my first attempt at environmental writing. And although my contribution to the project was not particularly notable (the outstanding research she produced can be found here), it was a summer that changed the trajectory of my professional career.