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Field Notes Archive

Field notes is an archive of monthly updates on multiple projects led by faculty and students in the natural sciences. The entries go from January of 2007 to December of 2016.

December 2016 I think we’re starting to see the first broccoli heads out in the field! Isabel Zaragoza, 2015 graduate of the Environmental Science Technology and Policy program at CSU, Monterey Bay has been working on a study in Gonzales, CA to quantify the benefits of best management practices for irrigation and nutrient management. Recent graduates and current students are working in collaboration with Salinas Valley growers, NASA Ames Research Center, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis to help quantify crop yield, nitrate leaching and N2O emissions, and examine the use of on-farm best management practices for Central California’s commodity crops. The project aims to provide growers with tools that will make it easier to use data-driven approaches to manage irrigation and fertilizer in the Central Coast.

isabel in broccoli
Yelloweye & Goby
SCUBA diver

November 2016 CSUMB Research Divers Go Deep Much of what we know about the ecology of marine fishes along California's coast comes from SCUBA diving in relatively shallow water (100 m water depth). We know less, however, about the zone that falls between standard SCUBA and ROV sampling. CSUMB's Institute for Applied Marine Ecology is now conducting weekly diver-held video transects (35-40 m water depth) at points in southern Carmel Bay to learn more about fishes in this understudied zone.

October 2016 Dr. Kerry Nickols participated in an NSF-funded program over the summer: the Antarctic Biology Training Program for Early Career Scientists. The goal of this program is to provide early career scientists with hands-on experience conducting work in Antarctica to help them develop their own independent research programs in polar science. Dr. Nickols conducted research during the austral winter aboard one of the US Antarctic Program's Icebreakers and at Palmer Station, located on the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Dr. Kerry Nickols
Lisa and Levi preparing samples for osmometryely.
Lisa and Levi preparing samples for osmometry and electrochemistry, respectively.
Left: A previously known deep eutectic solvent
Left: A previously known deep eutectic solvent (DES) ineffective at dissolving metal oxides. Right: A novel, non-toxic DES that dissolves iron oxide.

September 2016 Five CSUMB undergraduate students (Alesha Corral, Lisa Fredenburg, Dylan Jones, Levi Matsushima, and Cynthia Okereafor) worked on laboratory research projects in summer 2016 under the mentorship of John Goeltz, an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences. Alesha, Lisa, and Cynthia investigated new methods for measuring equilibria in water. Their work will enable more accurate knowledge of molecular behavior in real world environments and improved methodologies for teaching and learning about pH and acidity. Dylan and Levi investigated deep eutectic solvents, mixtures of salts that form room temperature ionic melts. Their work may find applications in energy conversion and storage, though some of the materials also appear to be excellent non-toxic rust removers. John and his students thank the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center and a Faculty Incentive Grant for funding.

Three-phase deep eutectic solvents.
Three-phase deep eutectic solvents. All include a room temperature melt, but the amounts of each phase varies with molar ratio.

Summer 2016 The CSUMB School of Natural Sciences is offering a new summer course - BIO 362: Field Ornithology (4 units). Students in the class master bird field identification while visiting a variety of regional habitats, including oak woodlands, wetlands, pine forests, coastal estuaries, and bays. This summer, students were treated to an up-close look at the raptors being used for pest abatement in the building demolition on campus, and also got to join biologists with the Ventana Wildlife Society as they tracked condors in Big Sur.

Students learn about owls
students with binoculars
heron standing in water
bird standing on the sand
hand holding a krat
krat in trap

May 2016 Students in Dr. Jenny Duggan’s BIO 364: Mammology (4 units): Mammology class learn about the evolution and ecology of the diverse mammals found throughout the world. This semester, they conducted the first surveys of small mammals on newly established monitoring sites at the UC Fort Ord Natural Reserve. Students learned how to capture, handle, and identify local species of mice and kangaroo rats. The data they collected will be used to examine how small mammal communities change where grasslands are converted to shrub lands in California. If students in other classes visiting the reserve can implement the same methodology as efficiently as the students in Mammalogy, this new monitoring program will be expanded to include sites on other UC Nature Reserves.

photo of participants

April 2016 In ENVS 315: Soils and the Environment (4 units), taught by Meagan Hynes, students get to tour various local agricultural operations in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of California. This semester they assisted with research at The Company Ranch (TRC) for Driscoll’s strawberries with Stefanie Kortman (CSUMB). The class also visited a vineyard to learn about soil moisture sensing research with Kirk Post (CSUMB & NASA). Field trips focus on application of introductory soil science topics such as soil chemistry, physics, fertility, and microbiology. Students learn about how soil is the important link between agriculture and the environment.

field students
students taking measurements in the field
Quercus agrifolia (coast)
Quercus agrifolia (coast)
Quercus chrysolepis (canyon)
Quercus chrysolepis (canyon)
Quercus wislizeni (interior)
Quercus wislizeni (interior)

March 2016 Students in Nikki Nedeff’s Spring 2016 BIO 342: Plant Communities of CA (4 units) class (California Plant Communities) walk through restored coastal dune habitat near Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach. Concepts related to disturbance ecology and habitat restoration are folded into lecture topics focused on the natural communities found throughout California. During field trips, students identify indicator plant species using plant identification techniques and dichotomous keys. So, can you tell the difference between an interior live oak, a canyon live oak and a coast live oak?


February 2016 CSUMB's Special Topics in Mycology (BIO 495: Special Topics (1-4 units)) course gets a field tour on mushroom identification with Phil Carpenter. This year has been an exceptional year for mushroom hunting and some students have taken advantage of this in their coursework. BIO 495: Special Topics (1-4 units) is taught by Timothy Miles and in this course, students are collecting and identifying mushrooms as part of their class project along with other microscopic fungi. Phil Carpenter was formerly the president of the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz and can site identify several hundred species in the Monterey Bay area. More information about the Fungus Federation can by found here:

Students in the field

School of Natural Sciences

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