Today is the last day of the fall semester and around the MSC the fall is a pretty special time in terms of classes and coursework. Northeastern and the MSC run an academic program, called Three Seas – an intense year-long program that gives students hands-on experience in marine science. For the fall semester, the students come to the MSC everyday to take courses in invertebrates, ecology, statistics, and best of all, botany!
For the third time I have had the pleasure of TAing (TA = teaching assistant) marine botany to a group of pretty stellar students. Since I love seaweeds I naturally love TAing marine botany. My duties include getting the students familiar with the local flora, helping them with independent projects, and generally giving them guidance (and shaping their minds -mwahaha!) as they navigate through this rigorous program. Some may argue however, that my most important job is cooking up the blancmange (seaweed pudding!) for our annual seaweed buffet. This pudding utilizes the carageenan from irish moss (Chondrus crispus) to solidify the pudding much like gelatin. The carageen is pretty much tasteless so you add a variety of ingredients to your liking. You can find the recipe I used as inspiration here.
Jokes aside, I really love teaching. I especially love teaching for programs, like Three Seas, where the nature of the courses allow you to build lasting relationships with the students. This year was especially rewarding as I had already taught many of the students in previous courses at Northeastern’s main campus so I have been able to watch the students grow and learn for some time. Over the next six months, these students will spend time on the coral reefs of Panama and kelp forests of the San Juan Islands. Although I can’t go with them I hope they keep the high levels of excitement and curiosity and great work ethic they showed this semester. And, as Don Cheney says, remember to “Love the Algae”.