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Internship allows CSUMB junior Barber to learn about the two sides of science

Working in an office near Washington, D.C., over the summer, Tiffany Barber made a critical discovery: She hated being cooped up indoors all day.

Barber, a junior marine science major from Los Angeles, is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Educational Partnership Program for undergraduates. In addition to financial aid, the program provides summer internships for students who major in fields related to NOAA’s mission.

Tiffany BarberBarber was assigned to the agency’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Silver Spring, Maryland.

She worked in a cubicle in one of the four buildings on the NOAA campus. Her summer project was to complete a literature review of accounts of killer whale attacks on marine mammals worldwide.

At the end of her eight-week internship, she wrote a paper and made a presentation to a research symposium.

Though she enjoyed the experience, she decided that working in a cubicle wasn’t for her.

“Now I understand the other side of science,” she said. “There are two sides: field and desk. I like field science. I like to be outside and actually collecting the research.” She was quick to add, however, that she has learned to value the work of analyzing data, even if it isn’t what she wants to do.

Her NOAA mentor “taught me a lot about what it takes to be a researcher,” Barber said. “Her advice helped me to understand how to act as a scientist and what is expected of me if I want to attend graduate school.”

Another scientist suggested she study coral reefs since she’s interested in how temperature affects the behavior of marine invertebrates. That suggestion appealed to her; she hopes to land a research project in Hawaii next summer to do just that.

Another discovery she made while on her internship in D.C. was more predictable: “I didn’t like the weather.”

– Joan Weiner