On Saturday I ran the lush, sunny Duke Forest trails one last time as a Durham resident while my friend Vivienne, a PhD student in Marine Science & Conservation, packed her apartment into half of the U-Haul. After my furniture and belongings were packed into the other half, I gave each of my housemates a big hug. I’m going to miss their company tremendously, but I know I’ll see them again. There’s a great incentive for visiting me at my new location: the coast.
Graduate students whose research is based at the Duke Marine Lab usually spend their first year taking classes on main campus in Durham, and spend their remaining time at the Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC. Vivienne and I both moved to Beaufort this weekend after submitting our last term papers, taking our last final exams, and grading our own students’ papers and final exams. We planned our arrival in time for the dedication ceremony of the Orrin Pilkey research laboratory this Sunday. The new facility is home to research labs, teaching labs, and offices of grad students and faculty.
The dedication ceremony started with short speeches from Dean Chameides, faculty, and donors. These people then ceremoniously cut the large blue ribbon in front of the building (but this time there were no comical jumbo-sized scissors like those used for Environment Hall’s ribbon cutting ceremony). Crowds of donors, students, and visitors then entered the building to tour the labs and admire the oceanfront view.
The Johnson Lab is one of the research groups based in the new Pilkey building, so we gave visitors general explanations about research going on in the lab- including algae cultivation for biofuels, marine cyanobacteria diversity, and effects of increasing temperature on these cyanobacteria.
I’ll miss the towering forests, abundance of grocery stores, Nicholas School friends, and running trails in Durham, but hearing seagulls, smelling the ocean, being part of the Marine Lab community, and seeing the pink sunset sky behind boats floating in the bay are new daily happenings that I have the privilege to experience. I’ve always thought that people who live on the coast must have a different perspective on life than inlanders, given all the thoughts that a vast ocean can conjure up. We shall see.