I have, I think, spent more time agonizing over writing than actually writing at all.
Whether it is a school assignment, a card to friends or family, a lab report, an argumentative essay, a speech, a text message, or yes, even this blog post, I struggle with the volatile and intangible nature of words. Part of this difficulty stems from the inherently personal nature of writing. All the writing advice I’ve ever heard in my life manifests as an echoing voice in my head. I think it’s the voice of a greying English professor, or an ancient whispering fortuneteller, or something equally ridiculous. It intones, “Write from the soul, the brain, the heart, the internal organ of your choosing. Reveal the true self.”
Naturally, this voice is useless to me. Maybe that’s why I chose to be a science major?
In studying Geology and Environmental Science at William & Mary, I have not written as much as I have in the past. I have blogged before, but now most of my writing happens in lab reports and term papers. However, science still makes voices of introspection echo in my head, seeking purpose and application and meaning. Looking at rock samples or graphs is fine in class, but I always get more out of fields trips, being able to see what I’m learning at a large scale.
At any rate, I should count myself lucky that this year I will be avoiding such writing worries. Instead of revealing my own self, I hope to reveal many people, all under one institution at large – the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. VIMS is a sister school of W&M, and a big sister at that – a graduate school connected to our undergraduate institution. It sits about 16 miles away from W&M, overlooking the York River in Gloucester Point, VA. I count myself lucky in this way too. In a half hour drive, I can hear about exciting new marine science research while fulfilling my own passion for science and sustainability.
As a W&M EcoAmbassador, I have been tasked with writing about VIMS. There are eight other EcoAmbassadors for this academic year, all working on different projects. Each year, several undergrads are chosen by W&M’s Committee on Sustainability (COS) to become EcoAmbassadors. These students work with advisors, faculty, staff, and students to complete sustainability-related projects. Other EcoAmbassadors this year are looking at recycling data, organizing Earth Week activities, and planning lessons for VIMS family-focused Discovery Lab. Although most of these projects center around W&M, some don’t (like mine!) – and either way, focusing on sustainability has potential effects for the world outside our campus.
This year, I will be interviewing VIMS faculty and staff and blogging about their marine science research. Each individual and their work will be written about under the umbrella of “sustainability”. What purpose, what application, and what meaning does their research have towards a “sustainable” future – and what does that even mean??
Some of the future subjects of my blog will include:
- “Eco-geomorphplogy” of salt marshes and other estuarine environments
- Rain barrels and runoff pools for VIMS buildings
- The past, present, and future of marine protected areas (MPA’s)
- VIMS 75th Anniversay (February 2015!)
- Biodegradable crabbing pots to minimize bycatch
- Sea rise, and how to manage the ensuing impact of coastal flooding
Hopefully, writing about this research will require little agonizing on my part. I’ll leave that to the people at VIMS.