Six weeks of modelling and a bit of fun

Overall, we found the Marine Environment Modelling course to be very interesting and informative. We enjoyed the overall content of the course and the experience was very rewarding. We have never had a class that really discussed the formulation of models, so going through the process really provided a feel for some of the assumptions and considerations that go into it. In particular, we were really grateful for the chance to build and learn about the NPZ models as we hear a lot about them in ecosystem-based fishery management, but rarely delve into the specifics or inner-workings. Essentially, they're usually just considered in a "black-box" context which is really unfortunate if your goal is to consider the entire ecosystem. However, it was easy to see how each model we addressed could be applied in the field (bioenergetics, IBMs, etc.) and it was great to receive some background into how these models may be formulated.

The pace of the course took some getting used to and it was somewhat difficult to keep all of the information in mind. The last week of class, while studying for the exam, we had completely forgotten some topics that were discussed earlier in the course! But, while it was very intensive, we were definitely capable of keeping up with the workload so it wasn't unreasonable.

We liked how the daily lessons were designed: lectures in the mornings and labs in the afternoon. We found it very difficult to pay attention to another round of lectures in the afternoon, so we were quite happy when we were instead given a lab and set off to go forth and code.

All of the people were great. Our professors were passionate for the topics that they covered and were approachable. They also made themselves available for further help outside of the classroom. The students welcomed us as if we spoke the language. We have a lot of good memories with the students (from various dinners to trips into the surrounding towns) which really helped release some of the stress from the intensive workload. Even the various staff members of the buildings were friendly.

We also enjoyed residing at the O.O.V. station. The rooms were very comfortable, and we loved falling asleep to the sounds of the waves as well as waking up to watch the sunrise across the bay (what could be more relaxing than that). Although bathrooms and showers were shared, they were kept very clean. Above all, we were very appreciative of having access to a kitchen and laundry room throughout our stay.

Here are a few pictures to share our experience. Together with us, they feature Jean-Olivier Irisson (PUF project's coordinator), Lars Stemmann and Fabien Lombard (the Modelling course supervisors) and some of the other students.

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