The end of the Nurse sharks modeling experience
by Greta Busseni, on
All good things come to an end, and so my master internship has reached its own. I think I can proudly say to have taken advantage the most from this opportunity. From a scientific point of view it has been surely an astonishing adventure. I entered the mysterious world of Bayesian statistics and I wandered among new charming analysis methods and statistical concepts until now completely obscure to me. I got to thanks my supervisor, Dr. 'Beth' Babcock to have let me in, and to have found the patience to explain me this world and its rules. It has been a pleasure to work with her and to spend time together discussing about the conceptualization of the model. To reflect and exchanges ideas about the various sharks' probabilities helped me personally grow on this field and to fully understand the Bayesian modelling dynamics. Furthermore, I'm truly enthusiastic of my results: I'm looking forward to present them in few weeks to the Pierre and Marie Curie University commission as my master thesis. With surprise, I discovered at the last minute that my hierarchical model was not too complex only for me, but even for my computer! It took two weeks to run, but I was completely satisfied with the output. We finally demonstrated the decrease of the nurse shark population in Glover's Reef Marine Reserve, and the need for new management efforts.
Aside from my project I also had the opportunity to work in a highly specialized center as RSMAS, of the University of Miami, in contact with great minds and pillars of oceanographic science. It's useless to say how motivating this kind of environment can be.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Partner University Fund (PUF), which gave me the possibility to cross the ocean to join this astonishing laboratory. I'd like to specially thank Dr. Irisson, who saved me several times during the bureaucracy procedure and believed on the possibility of this exchange even in the hardest moments, but also Dr. Paris, who kindly welcomed me on the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. And finally, last but not least, I'd like to particularly thanks the French crew of RSMAS, among which there were other PUF students, who allowed me to not forget France, and my lovely roommate Camille, who suffered several personal modeling crisis which were entirely part of the scientific process.
Here are a few pictures relating my semester here: a huge egret in face of the RSMAS laboratory, profiting of the sunset after a long day of work; me and Camille, at the Miami Open, watching our first real tennis match; the fantastic RSMAS oceanographic ship; rays near the surface (not exactly nurse sharks but Elasmobranch at least); and my laptop, abandoning me after a week of model-running!