Salty Introduction: Jarrett Byrnes

Hello hello.

I thought I’d introduce myself as one of the newest members of the DSN crew. I’m an assistant professor at UMass Boston studying kelp forests, salt marshes, and changes in ocean biodiversity and ecosystem function. So, I’m more on the shallow sea news side of things – -5 to ~40m in depth. But somehow Craig et al. decided to bring me on anyway. So stand by for some photic zone phun.

I’m also delighted to be here as I think I’ve been on a bit of a science blogging and science communications journey. Some of you might know me from my old blog, I’m a Chordata! Urochordata!. It’s where I began experimenting with talking about ocean science online. I began it as a research blog, partly for myself. Then I got interested in trying to tell stories about science in the sea. And then… it’s morphed into something more of a blog by a scientist for scientists, heavy on the quantitative stuff. I admit, starting a new faculty job, I had a long think about what that blog was and how it fit into my career, and came up quite empty handed.

As a new faculty member, I’ve been pretty concerned with building a lab, writing grants, getting a handle on teaching, writing grants, learning the administrative ropes and new responsibilities I have, writing grants, trying to do the things I need to do to secure tenure and ingratiate myself to my colleages, writing grants, and generally keeping my head down. Well, as much as I am able to make myself, anyway.

But there’s been a deep aching in my heart. That I’m not sure of what my voice is as a science communicator. That I wasn’t able to bring that to my blog. And some of that was real – if only from the exhaustion that is the modern life academic in your early years. And some of that might well have been imagined caution.

With all that is happening, inside of me, I’ve known, that this holding back has to stop now. We’re entering a time when our oceans are going to be under new and wilder threats – some we’ve seen coming and some we don’t yet know about. There’s never been a time to share more about our love and passion for the wee beasties and charsimatic megaflora and fauna of the deep than now. And so when an email comes from Craig about joining the superteam at DSN…you think about what you want to say and what voice you want to put out there. And so I look to the ocean.

The ocean is wide and vast and deep. It contains so much wonder. So much joy. But it has no time for bullshit. It does not care about you. How we as a species see the ocean depends so much on how we choose to look at it. So I’m going to try and bring that to what I write here – wonder, joy, no bullshit, and ultimately laying down things as they are. It’s my take on our core values, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Also kelp.

I will be sharing kelp.

Lots of kelp.

(and maybe a few sea chanties)