Pete Stetson CAS ’09

Pete sitting with underwater photographic gear in Chilean Patagonia (photo credit: Sebastian Yancovic Pakarati)

Pete sitting with underwater photographic gear in Chilean Patagonia (photo credit: Sebastian Yancovic Pakarati)

BUMP was the highlight of my undergraduate career. Perhaps that’s why I did the BUMP semester three times. (Editor’s note: Now known as “Pulling a Stetson”) From the professors I worked with, to the friends I made, to the places I went, it was amazing. Chasing whales and seabirds with Les (Kaufman) on Stellwagen Bank, studying the aqua alta of Venice with Ivan (Valiela) in Woods Hole, GIS with Kerry (Lagueux), Inverts with John (Finnerty), and working on underwater mapping technology with Phil (Lobel) in Belize. My research with Phil and the Cobra-Tac as a tool for mapping coral  rugosity took me back to Belize twice and ended with an oral presentation and a proceedings paper with the International Coral Reef Symposium in Florida. Such opportunities as an undergraduate were fantastic and not easy to find. I definitely got a taste of what graduate school is like.

Running the cobratac towed behind a boat, Wee Wee Caye, Belize (photo credit: Alyssa Assad, BUMP alumna)

Running the cobratac towed behind a boat, Wee Wee Caye, Belize (photo credit: Alyssa Assad, BUMP alumna)

After BUMP, I did a Masters in Oceanography with Dr. Andy Pershing at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). We worked on modeling krill behavior in the presence of internal waves as a mechanism for generating biological “hotspots” in the Gulf of Maine. My research at GMRI turned into a project where I worked as Scientist in Residence at the Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute in Chilean Patagonia. I spent the austral summer in a remote fjord (~22 hours by ferry to the nearest city). I monitored trout populations, observed marine mammal movements, and took oceanographic samples (with a CTD). One could read: I went fly-fishing 3x a week on remote rivers in the Patagonian jungle, swam with blue whales and sea lions, and hand-hauled thousands of feet worth of line with the CTD. It was a dream-job and many of the skills that got me there were developed in BUMP: communication of scientific ideas, photo-documenting,  planning and logistics for remote field work and troubleshooting scientific equipment.

Chilean Patagonia: Documenting blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) feeding preferences near Melimoyu Bay. The mother and calf blue whales are in the background. (photo credit: Alex Machuca)

Chilean Patagonia: Documenting blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) feeding preferences near Melimoyu Bay. The mother and calf blue whales are in the background. (photo credit: Alex Machuca)

 

I have since gone back to school for a Masters in Engineering with the Ocean Engineering Group at the University of Texas at Austin. In July ’13 I’ll start working offshore with Schlumberger in the Gulf of Mexico.