Scientific Research Expeditions

chadwicksavage

Adventurer
I was wondering if anyone ever went out on any expeditions for the purpose of scientific research? Or if there are any threads documenting this. Even in the states, whether it's animal tagging, telemetry studies, geology, GIS work, etc. I would love to be involved in any way possible. Thanks.
 

Rando

Explorer
What exactly are you looking to do? I am a scientist and have lead many scientific 'expeditions' from outback Australia to Antarctica. I am in a fairly technical field (atmospheric science), so my team is usually scientists, graduate students, engineers and support staff (mountaineers, pilots etc) so if you want to be involved in this sort of work you really have to make a job out of it. However, there are educational type trips in which you learn about science, and maybe contribute in some small way to a bigger project, but I am not really sure you would call these expeditions - maybe science themed adventure tourism. Things like: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/marine-conservation-thailand or http://earthwatch.org/expeditions .
 

chadwicksavage

Adventurer
Rando,

I have an undergraduate degree in Biology and a graduate certificate in Geospatial Analysis from the University of Florida. I would like to make a career out of this. I would just like some research experience under my belt before applying to graduate programs. I'm currently attempting to apply to master's programs but was just denied because they needed more PhD applicants, said I was very competitive with no tangible ways to improve my application, just no spots in the master's program. My GRE score is 324 (95th percentile verbal, 73rd quant). I am specifically interested in species distributions in response to anthropogenic disturbance or climate change. I also am toying with the idea of creating a raspberry pi connected to a CO2 sensor (they're not widely available for the raspberry pi and you have to go through a lab equipment company) and a GPS hat module to send data to an ArcOnline map through your smartphone while the sensor is attached to the outside of the vehicle, creating a crowd sourced ground level CO2 map.

I am also willing to be support staff to get this experience as I am a certified Wilderness Emergency Medicine instructor and Wilderness First Responder, though I can teach the EMT upgrade as I've been a WEMT in the past but am not currently nationally registered. I was also an Outward Bound guide for a bit so remote travel is not out of the question. Unfortunately I am not interested in the adventure tourism because I am seeking to develop more technical skills and add research to my resume. Currently, I am an AP Environmental Science teacher at one of the top 20 private schools in the country (10% of the students I teach personally were accepted to Ivy's early action), so I have summer's off.

I am also tangentially interested in humanitarian trips and have tossed around the idea of setting up a ham radio system in Swaziland with a friend of mine who owns a farm and school there. We would train locals as wilderness first responders since they're often more than 50 minutes from definitive medical care with the country only having 6 hospitals and use the radios to relay calls to the responders in remote regions where cell phone service is lacking.

So with that additional information...does the advice change at all or should I look into the adventure tourism more heavily?
 

PirateMcGee

Expedition Leader
Air quality and water quality consulting are good fields for traveling.

Apply to more grad programs if you want pursue more school. There are lots of good programs out there and you'll get in.

Also check out Engineers Without Borders and similar programs.

If you enjoy teaching where you are I would try to applying to some summer internships with USGS.
 

Rando

Explorer
If you are interested in making a career out of this as opposed to going on an adventure, that is a whole different kettle of fish. First piece of advice - don't apply for a masters program, apply for a PhD program. As the PI on these sorts of programs, masters students are of little use to me as Research Assistants as it takes a year or two to get a student up to speed - at which point a masters student is leaving. A PhD student still has 3-4 years left, which is when they provide the most value to the research project, and when the students gets the most out of it. If you decide the field is not for you, you can still leave with a masters after the completion of your comprehensive exams 2-3 years in.

Second, this is only the a road I would go down if you are truly and primarily interested in the science, not the field work. For every month in the field, there is a year or more in the lab and in front of a computer calibrating instruments, writing code, analyzing data, and writing the papers - which is after all the ultimate goal of the work. If you are really interested in just the field work part, a technician or support staff path maybe a more appropriate position. NEON is often hiring for this sort of position to support their network of ecological/hydrological/meteorological field sites.

I would still recommend one of these adventure/educational tourism options as a first step to try out this sort of thing before committing many years of your life to getting a PhD. A couple thousand dollars and few weeks is a small price to pay to test out the career.

I don't mean to sound discouraging, but we get many folks who think this is the career for them, but once they actually face the reality of turning the data they collected into a meaningful scientific result they become less excited.

If you are interested in air quality and geoinformatics, openaq.org would be a good place to spend some time.
 

chadwicksavage

Adventurer
I'll have to wait a bit on the internship. I'm not a full time student and USGS requires that, also there's a federal hiring freeze. I had a pretty decent shot at a watershed representative job at TVA but then the freeze took effect. I do enjoy where I'm teaching but my girlfriend just moved so now's as good a time as any to make some sort of jump. Thanks for the advice!
 

chadwicksavage

Adventurer
I hadn't seen your response when I wrote this Rando. This is something I have wanted since I first applied to a PhD out of undergraduate and they told me to wait one year because my biology professor wasn't aware of how to turn the rec in. They had just switched to online recs and he was like 80 and just wasn't game for figuring it out so in retrospect I should have just asked someone else. But yes I am primarily interested in the science, I have been a guide and enjoy field work but the writing, publishing, disemminating is something I thoroughly enjoy. Whether it's writing primers for the phosphoglucokinase gene in a new plant and then running pcr for days or drawing handling curves after watching birds choose differing seeds for hours, science is my main goal. I am not opposed to a PhD and would love to go on to one, I just thought Master's were less competitive so was shooting there first to publish before applying to a better school.
 

H2O_Doc

Adventurer
I was wondering if anyone ever went out on any expeditions for the purpose of scientific research? Or if there are any threads documenting this. Even in the states, whether it's animal tagging, telemetry studies, geology, GIS work, etc. I would love to be involved in any way possible. Thanks.
I’m super lucky, this is part of my job (getting out and working with field scientists). It’s easier to do via University research versus state or Fed research. I’ll ask around amongst some of the researchers for links that might help.

Here was my early winter:
 

F350joe

Adventurer
I captured mountain lion and put gps dollars on them and now do underwater ROV surveys and coastal monitoring. The land based monitoring was a lot of off-roading in designated wilderness areas where I was the only one out there. If you want to work in the field and don’t care so much about money, a field biologist is the way to go. A lot of fun but you have to work in all conditions and not complain. It can also be dangerous, had a rattler bounce off the back of my leg trying to strike me a couple miles from the truck and 30 miles from help. Your wilderness training would be an asset for any field team. You can do that with an undergrad degree. As it was pointed out earlier in the thread, the higher the education the more desk time, but better money. My advice would be to join the Florida wildlife society and do all the events and field trainings you can afford. Everyone I did led to a job offer and great contacts. Get a few years under your belt then decide where you want to focus your education, somebody may even pay you to get a PHD. The job you are looking for will not be posted on Craigslist, you need to network and probably even volunteer before you get hired. Another avenue would be to develop your co2 monitoring idea, look for grant money for help, and then pimp yourself out as a contractor to everyone that does environmental work. I got started by building my own underwater ROV and doing outreach events for non profits, still do that, but will be doing real surveys beginning this summer as a result of relationships I made doing the outreach work.

You are already a teacher, try getting a Makers Lab in your school. You can then develop your Co2 device and get free child labor.

https://fltws.org/#

Hope this helps. Just having the courage to ask around will go a long ways. Picking up the phone and calling the places doing what you want to do would be a good idea too. Nobody turns down free skilled labor and it’s a great foot in the door.
 

chadwicksavage

Adventurer
Holy thread revival Batman! Still awesome advice though. I’m no longer a teacher and haven’t been for two years. My school had an awesome maker space and our robotics won nationals many years. I currently work as a digital marketer/web developer but am very much still open to research. I just had to move so my girlfriend could get licensed as a marriage and family therapist but her two year waiting period is up in August then we’re down to move anywhere. Since I originally posted I’ve also gotten my preMBA coursework out of the way through Harvard business schools HBX CORe program and learn quite a bit of JavaScript. So we’ll see where fall and winter take me.
 

F350joe

Adventurer
Holy thread revival Batman! Still awesome advice though. I’m no longer a teacher and haven’t been for two years. My school had an awesome maker space and our robotics won nationals many years. I currently work as a digital marketer/web developer but am very much still open to research. I just had to move so my girlfriend could get licensed as a marriage and family therapist but her two year waiting period is up in August then we’re down to move anywhere. Since I originally posted I’ve also gotten my preMBA coursework out of the way through Harvard business schools HBX CORe program and learn quite a bit of JavaScript. So we’ll see where fall and winter take me.
Ha ha, just saw the year from your original post.
 
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