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cadet blogs

Excited About My Research Projects

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo It’s been a while! I feel like I have a tendency to pull out the “I’m busy” excuse fairly frequently, as do most cadets here… but, I actually have been very busy keeping up with my schoolwork and extracurriculars during the last few weeks of the semester. This semester has been particularly enjoyable for me on the academic side because the focus of my major, Marine and Environmental Sciences, has started to shift from short-term objective assignments to larger, more time-consuming projects requiring much more critical thinking and analysis. Case in point, my project for Geospatial Sciences (a class involving a lot of map-making and working with computers). My partner Tasha and I took on a project with Mystic Aquarium to track the presence of beluga whales in New England waters. Belugas usually live much further up north, around the St. Lawrence River and other areas in Canada and Greenland. However, occasionally some swim down into New England. We wanted to see what, if any, environmental factors were influencing that behavior. We had to collect data from stranding networks, newspapers, blogs, etc. detailing any sightings of belugas, and plug those points into a map. Then, we worked with the MatLab programming software to import sea surface temperature and chlorophyll concentration data into the maps. Overall, the data collection process took most of the last half to three-quarters of the semester; it’s harder to locate this information and make it a compatible format than you might realize!

 

We put it all together, and made the incredibly important discovery of… no evident correlation between these factors and beluga presence. But, even if we didn’t answer all of life’s beluga mysteries, we did contribute to Mystic Aquarium’s mission, and that was pretty neat! There’s also the chance to keep working on this outside of the scheduled curriculum as an independent research project, which I’m planning on for next semester. In addition, I spent time this semester researching fish in the Thames River, which involved some trawling and seining action, and writing an extensive paper on the invasion of Nile perch in Lake Victoria in Uganda; again, both deeply involved and open-ended research opportunities. Meanwhile, I kept myself involved in the physics side of the department by working with one of the instructors on research of the magnetic fields produced by solar flares (or, in actuality, working out numerous bugs with the IDL programming language). These sorts of projects, and the chance to continue researching next year on my own, are really what made this semester such a blast for me. They demanded much time and effort, and often late nights, but some splendid products and opportunities came out of them. Plus, I just really get a kick out of being so focused on science. It makes me that much more excited for my classes next semester and for the new challenges that await!

 

More about Abby.

 

Swab Summer to Swimming in the Thames

(Athletics, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Twarog Photo As a fourth class, or freshman, the transition from Swab Summer to the school year can be…very stressful. You go from a setting where you are given five minutes to shower and change to an environment where you have to manage your time meticulously. There is no “freshman orientation” here. Not only this, but with the return of the Corps of Cadets, you’re faced with the challenge of learning the names and faces of each member of your company (there are more than 100 cadets in each company). With all of this stress, one needs an outlet. For me, this outlet was racing for the Academy’s Triathlon Team.

 

Before coming to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy earlier this year, I competed as a road cyclist on the Elm City Velo Cycling Team, out of Keene, New Hampshire. Primarily, I raced longer road races (40–65 mile races) and hill climbs. Simply put, I love riding, and I didn’t want to give it up when I came here. This was partially the reason why I decided to join the USCGA’s Triathlon Team. Even beyond this, the Triathlon Team here operates similarly to my old cycling team; each racer decides on which races they want to do and they can tailor their training to those races. In other words, the team offers you a lot of freedom in setting your own athletic goals. It’s the type of setting that I thrive in.

 

I’ll be honest. There aren’t any other teams at the USCGA like the Triathlon Team. This is part of the thrill of being on the team. A few memories that stand out from this season include:

  • Sleeping on the floor of a training room at the Portland Small Boat Station in Maine
  • Swimming in the Thames as the sailing and crew teams looked at us like we were out of our minds
  • Sitting on the side of the road in the cold for an hour in soaked spandex while I waited for my ride back to the start when I didn’t finish the Conference Championships (not necessarily the best memory, to be honest)
  • Countless hours of sharing the various adventures each of us have had while training or racing
  • Inadvertently running into a pack of wild boar while running next to Connecticut College
  • Crossing the finish line of my first Olympic Triathlon. There are no words to describe that feeling.

 

The weeks following the season have been pretty exciting. Despite the disappointing results at Regionals, the team selected me as an alternate for the Nationals Team that will be travelling down to South Carolina in April for the U.S. Collegiate National Championships. This is a pretty big deal considering it is historically the best male Triathlon Team in USCGA history. Being selected as a fourth class makes it even that much bigger of a deal. More recently, I’ve exclusively been focusing on riding consistently. In mid-November, I’ll be competing in my first Cyclocross race, which is a mix between a road race and a mountain bike race. Even beyond this, I joined the United States Military Endurance Sports Cycling Development Team and the beginning of November to pursue cycling more seriously.

 

Compared to other cadets, my athletic track is a bit unconventional. There aren’t any other cadets who take road cycling seriously, so I’ve had to create my own way to a certain extent. That being said, my teammates and peers have been tremendously supportive of my goals and this has been hugely helpful and encouraging. Despite the stress that fourth class year brings, the adventures made with the Triathlon Team have given me something consistently to look forward to each day.

 

More about Evan.

 

Get Rowdy 4/c

(Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo Swab Summer is over and the year is flying by. We’re already a month into school, which I didn’t realize until I had to start wearing sweatshirts to rugby practice this week. So much has happened at the Academy in the first month. One of my favorite experiences so far was going to the Secretaries’ Cup game at Kings Point.

 

When I hear service academy rivalries I often think of Army versus Navy and because of this I didn’t think the rivalry between Coast Guard and Merchant Marine would be a big one. I was wrong. Getting off the bus at Kings Point, one of the first things my classmates and I saw was King’s Point plebes walking around with a stuffed bear skewered through on one of their guidons. The rivalry only got more intense as the games started; the bleachers were shaking because of how much both academies were cheering. If there was a lull in the cheering for even a minute there would be an upper-class or staff member shouting “get rowdy 4/c”, which prompted a continuation of cheering. Toward the end of the game, the Regimental Commander came down and did a cheer with the 4/c. Even though we ended up losing the cup, it was a fun day and a great bonding experience with my classmates.

 

If you have any questions feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu.

 

More about Jill.