Posted in COJO 3530

This Dang Video Assignment…

For our most recent assignment, a digital video project, I recorded footage of the UW Raccoon Project.

While we do do some fun things, like trapping and processing raccoons, this is part of our dead season, so there really wasn’t a ton to video. I managed to get video of our new project manager checking camera traps and setting up a new pod experiment (which is pretty top secret because it’s brand new in the field, so I couldn’t get much on it).

I enjoyed the actual filming, and seeing what I could do with shots. I also enjoyed planning out what shots would go where with what background noise, whether it was the sound that came with the video,  or another sound clip cut over it. It was creative, but not so incredibly much that I’d completely blank on what to do (as I tend to do on overly creative things). There was a nice flow to follow that kind of naturally fell into place, which pleasantly surprised me.

I’m going to be honest though, when it came to the actual editing part, I wanted to pull my hair out in great chunks. Repeatedly. I used Adobe Premier, and I’m not certain if it was the program or me, or a little bit of both, but my goodness I could not get it to play nicely. It kept doing this thing that I termed “cannibalizing” where if I accidentally put one clip over another, and then moved it when I realized my mistake, the first clip was permanently clipped to where the second one had fallen on it. What a pain! (Among other problems…) I also had some issues with audio that I couldn’t figure out how to fix (you can probably tell where).

I wish I’d realized just how shaky I was when I was filming some shots. The person I was filming was not one to redo something just so I could get a better shot, so I just had to deal with what I got. If I’d known how shaky I was (especially when walking), I would have tried to do something (not sure what, but something), to mitigate that.

Overall, this was a frustrating project. I don’t particularly like my final product, to be honest. Sure, there are parts that I like, but I wish I’d had more opportunities to shoot and reshoot. I think that some parts could certainly be fixed, and I would have nixed the entire second interview if I could have. Then the editing software just made me irritated.

In the future, I wouldn’t mind directing a film project. I would like to be in the editing area saying “Ooo, put this here! Put that there, and this over here.” but I don’t want to be the actual person doing the actual clip moving and cutting and such.

Video can be a powerful communication tool, so I don’t think I’ll be escaping it any time soon.

And I’d just like to say, yes, it’s a little boring of a video. But it is a part of our research. Science isn’t always glamorous and fun and entertaining. For the majority of the year, this is what we do, or even less. There are fun parts to the project, but it’s also important to see the not fun parts, the tedious parts, and the downright annoying parts, because that’s what science is. It’s not always “eureka!’s” and playing with cute little critters, sometimes it’s checking an empty camera trap for the third time that week. That’s just how it is. And with that being said, *gets off of soapbox*.

Posted in COJO 3530

Instagram Can Be a Fickle Friend

This week, we promoted our blog and some of our posts on Instagram. Before this assignment, I had quite a bit of experience with Instagram, both in a personal and professional capacity. I have my own private Instagram account that I used to promote my stories (username engelivy – it’s a private account, so you have to follow it to see anything), and I also manage the various Instagram accounts of three different organizations (The UW Raccoon Project, University of Wyoming McNair Scholars, Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, Women in STEM Conference, Science Kitchen).

A screenshot of my personal Instagram

I didn’t really have much experience with Canva before this project, beyond having just heard about it.  I did like it though, so I hope to use it in the future as well.

My promotional voice changed according to the topic of each post. For example, my My Maps post is very conversational, so my caption was also very conversational. For the most part, I tried to use pictures from my blog posts, though some of them I tried to make the Canva post reflect the post as best I could. For example, I tried to keep my Canva for the Williams Conservatory post very clean and refreshing, like the pictures. The My Maps Canva is very lighthearted and fun, like the post itself. I honestly lucked out with finding the templates that I used.

One of the things I didn’t like about the assignment is that some of my blog posts (for example, the photojournalism assignment) were not something I necessarily felt like sharing. I didn’t really like the photos I took for it, and it felt weird to promote it. It also felt kind of awkward to promote the posts to my friends and family, simply because I don’t particularly like doing that type of thing – it feels really awkward to me. Something I need to work on.

I was kind of surprised at the amount of likes some of the posts received. I honestly wouldn’t have been shocked if some of them didn’t get any likes at all.

Originally I thought that I should just post all of my posts all at once and kind of late at night (see two paragraphs above), but after I’d posted them, I realized that I should have spread them out a bit. There were some that I would have liked to actually promote and have people go read, but I didn’t think that far ahead. Mixing them in with the others and posting them when I did reduce their visibility and people’s interest, and it felt weird to delete the posts and then repost them.

Social media is the future of communication, and especially science communication.  It’s an informal platform for interacting and communicating with others. Considering I’m going into scicomm, I know that I will be working on social media quite a bit. Instagram is also becoming one of the more popular platforms right now, making being proficient in its use even more relevant.

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My World Revolves Around Food, so of Course, my My Maps Does Too

My family and I, our worlds just revolve around food – especially when we’re on vacation. After eating one meal, our first step is to plan the next, then it’s onto what we’re going to do in between. We visit Long Beach Island, New Jersey (LBI) nearly every summer, and I personally spent two full summers there.

As such, we’ve come up with a pretty good go-to list of where to eat when we’re on the island. LBI has a lot of summer visitors, and they have a lot of places to choose from. Even though most people rent a house, and thus, have a kitchen, many choose to eat out anyway. Hopefully, with my list, they can hit all, or at least some, of the good places.

I chose not to rank the restaurants because they’re all kind of different. They’re different price ranges, atmospheres, styles, and dress codes. So really, which one you visit relies upon a lot more on other factors than on just the food. Plus, they’re all really good. I mean, picking a favorite restaurant would be akin to someone picking a favorite child.

Check out the interactive map of my picks below!

Fred’s Beach Haven Diner

The front of Fred’s Beach Haven Diner on Long Beach Boulevard (the main drag). Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

Fred’s is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. They have a large and diverse menu (making it a true diner in my mind) and the service is super friendly.

As my mom, Gretchen Engel, says, “I love that it’s a diner. I love that there’s 13 million gazillion different things on the menu!” She’s been visiting LBI since she was in middle school, and when she’s there, she goes to Fred’s on a regular basis.

Fred himself can often be seen running drinks, helping clean tables, and seating people, which adds a homey element to the restaurant. They’re also “open (pretty much) all year” – one of the few restaurants that can be counted on in the off season.

Black Whale Bar & Fish House

The front of Black Whale, lit up at the start of the evening. Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

Black Whale is a nicer restaurant on the island. It’s a popular place to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. My family and I always try to hit Black Whale at least once during our visit. The majority of their selections are seafood and a lot of it comes right from Barnegat Bay. When I asked my dad and my sister what their favorite menu item was, both told me that the oyster shooters are definitely it. This restaurant isn’t something you should wear your flip flops and shorts to (though some people do), so that’s something visitors should keep in mind.

The Chicken or The Egg (Chegg)

The front of The Chicken or the Egg (Chegg) is empty. Usually, there are crowds out front, waiting to get in. Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

Chegg also kind of falls into the “diner” category with its massive and diverse menu. During season, they’re open 24/7 and they’re hoppin’ 24/7. Chegg is popular with people of all ages and it’s not unusual to wait to eat – they even made an app so you can check the wait time and put your name in line so that you’re not just standing out front waiting.

As my friend Caitlin Lustenburger says, “the long drive and long wait is always worth it to sit at the tables and laugh and eat wings and be able to leave with high spirits!”

People don’t often spend a lot of time there as service is really fast. It’s almost a controlled chaos, frantic atmosphere inside, which can be irritating to a lot of people.

Bistro 14

Bistro 14 is mostly an upstairs restaurant, but there is some outdoor seating on the ground floor. Photo courtesy of  Trip Advisor.

Bistro 14 is conveniently located in Bay Village, so it’s a popular dinner spot after a day of shopping. They have indoor and outdoor seating, so if it’s nice outside, you can bask in the sunshine as you eat. The majority of seating is upstairs, giving you a nice view of Barnegat Bay as you eat, not to mention the fantastic sunsets nearly every night. Because most seating is upstairs, this may not be the best place for handicapped patrons. The menu is fairly small, but I’ve never had a bad meal there.

Gazebo Grill and Sushi Bar

Gazebo Grill lights up the top of the warf. Photo courtesy of Gazebo Grill.

Gazebo is a cafe style restaurant located in Schooner’s Warf. Their menu is mostly quick meal items such as burgers and chicken strips, but they do have some pasta dishes. And, of course, there’s the sushi. The kitchen is open, so you can see your food being made, and the sushi bar is also open. Gazebo is a good place to grab lunch while you shop, however, most of their seating is outside, so it might not be as good in rainy weather. If you’re here in the evening, you can catch some spectacular sunsets on Barnegat Bay while you eat.

Spice it Up!

f-Bay Village Anniversary 20
Spice It Up has a simple storefront. The only indication of the deliciousness inside is a menu sign out front. Photo courtesy of The Sand Paper.

Spice It Up makes sandwiches like no other. Dan, the owner, is in the back, making his masterpieces. Gina, his wife, is usually up front, helping customers with a smile and a laugh. If Dan doesn’t like it, it’s not on the menu – and Dan has good taste! There are sandwiches for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, plus salads and kids items. This is a good place to grab lunch on the way home, or you can bring it next door to Ship Bottom Brewery and eat your sandwich with a locally crafted beer.

The Engleside Inn and Restaurant

The restaurant part of the Engleside is a little hidden, but once the entrance is found, it’s hard to stay away! Photo courtesy of

The Engleside is one of the higher-class restaurants on the island. It is attached to a hotel, but their food is more than just typical hotel fare. Like Black Whale, The Engleside is a good place to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Their prime rib is my grandmother’s favorite on the island – and she eats a lot of prime rib. Though The Engleside is located on a beach, this is another restaurant that you don’t wear your beach clothes to (though some people still do), so dress is to be considered when deciding where to eat.

I know many people who haven’t been to LBI, and never plan to go there, but for those who are interested, especially new visitors, I hope that my list helps them to make some good decisions on where they eat. My family and I have spent a lot of time cultivating a good go-to list of where to eat, and we’ve never been failed by the ones on this list.

Posted in COJO 3530

I Promise, I’m Only on my Phone for an Assignment!

Our most recent assignment was to live Tweet an event for our followers. I chose to Tweet the Jelly Bean Jam that was put on by Highland Park Community Church on Sunday, April 7. You can check out my Tweets here!

I tried to use a journalistic approach for this assignment. I didn’t know enough about the event to do a PR approach, and it honestly would have felt kind of weird to be “pumping up” the event. It definitely lent itself more to a journalistic approach.

Though I enjoyed picking out things that were interesting to me to post, it was also kind of hard. I kept missing the start of things before I realized that it would be good to post.  I really need to work on my listening-for-retention skills at nonschool events. I wish I had paid better attention, because there were quite a few things I had to simply not use because I didn’t get the beginning information.

Another issue I had was that the lights on stage messed with my camera, so it was really hard to get good photos or videos of anything on stage.

It was also kind of hard to get direct quotes from people to put on Twitter. Getting it word-for-word in the moment was difficult, and the people I talked to just continued talking and talking, making picking out quotable portions was difficult. Not to mention the character limit! However, people were very amicable about talking with me, which was nice.

I know I probably missed a couple small requirements throughout because I wanted to just get the Tweet up so that I could move on to another if something happened. I also didn’t have the requirements right in front of me, I was just working on memory.

I wonder if it will become more second nature for me to Tweet in AP style once I’ve been in the field and constantly using it than it was now. I had to go back and rewrite some posts into AP style because Twitter doesn’t have an “edit” feature. I would have liked to edit a couple posts, but I didn’t catch them until after the event. It wouldn’t have made sense to rewrite the posts and have them at the top of the Tweets because that would have thrown off the order and the flow of the Tweets, so I just left them.

This was definitely one of the harder assignments we’ve had so far, in my opinion.

My least favorite thing about this assignment was that I had to be on my phone for it. I felt so rude being on it, and I didn’t want people to think I’m just another disrespectful kid. I swear, if I wasn’t working on an assignment, I wouldn’t be on my phone!

I also run into this problem with two of my jobs. I run the social media for the NASA Space Grant Consortium and the McNair Scholars, plus I volunteer to run the social media for the UW Raccoon Project. Even though I’m checking notifications for those accounts or posting on them, I still feel like I’m just another millennial who’s obsessed with their phone.

I know I will be using social media in my future career. Right now, two of my paid jobs and a volunteer position are focused on social media. It is a highly relevant form of communication and outreach that is very informal and wide-reaching. We aren’t going to stop using it any time soon.

Posted in COJO 3530

Storytelling with Audio

Our most recent project for this class was to interview someone and record it, then edit it to make a clean, finished product. I interviewed Emily Violini, a friend and fellow student, about what it was like being a pre-vet student.

Emily Violini poses in the College of Ag, a building she spends a majority of her time in.

I definitely forgot to take a picture of Emily, and I had to text her to get one. It worked out pretty well because we both happened to have free time at the same time and she was in the building that is perhaps one of the most relevant to her. I’m really glad we got a picture in that building specifically because it definitely wasn’t planned that way.

Raw interview:

Edited interview:

I’ve interviewed people in the past and I always record them. Sometimes I use an old fashioned recorder, sometimes I use my phone, and this time, I used my laptop (and recorded straight into audacity). I also had a backup – my phone was recording at the same time. I’ve never recorded an interview with my laptop, as I usually use it for note-taking during the interview, so it was a little bit weird to do. It felt kind of uncomfortable to have it sitting open between us. However, when I use my phone or recorder, I feel just fine. It’s easy to just set it and forget it.

I actually kind of enjoyed the editing portion of the project. I enjoyed finding little errors and being able to zoom all the way in and very carefully cut and splice and delete and make the error disappear. I did run into one issue though – my interviewee oftentimes strings her words together (especially her “ums” with her next word). This made it extremely difficult to cut out the “ums” (you’ll see I left one in, because there was no way I was getting that baby out). I didn’t wholly succeed with some of the places where her “ums” ran into her words or her words just ran together, and while it irritates the bejeesus out of me, I just have to accept it and move on. Maybe when I have more experience I’ll be able to fix them.

It actually surprised me a little bit how easy (for the most part) it was to edit the audio, and how much I enjoyed it.

My walls are very thin and I had a couple loud vehicles drive past while I was interviewing Emily. I hadn’t even thought about this, but I wish I had – it ruined a section that I was hoping to use. I knew I had enough good stuff without that section though, so I decided not to rerecord the interview.

I think that I could possibly end up working in audio in my future. I could use a little bit of audio storytelling, perhaps as a podcast or something to use as a tool to humanize science and scientists. Plus, there is that internship this summer…

Posted in COJO 3530

Can Rats Solve the Addiction Problem?

Walk into the Brown Lab on the University of Wyoming campus, and you enter a whole new world. The shelves are overflowing with scientific instruments, books and bottles of chemicals.

On one side in the back, a mini surgery. Off to the other side, a microscope that looks more like a robot than an instrument for studying samples.

In this slightly chaotic lab, the mysteries of the reward circuits in the brain are being slowly unraveled, one rat at a time.

Rats and Food Addiction

First-year graduate student Georgia Kirkpatrick is interested in how different kinds of food can affect the way that a rat’s brain is built, which may be correlated with addiction to that food.

To study this, rats start on a standard chow diet. Then, those that are being studied either stay on that diet or are switched to a high fat diet. After the rats have eaten their assigned diet for a while, Kirkpatrick then switches some of the high fat rats back to a standard chow diet for another period of time.

Then, using a program called ImageJ, she studies the structures of the prefrontal cortex of each groups’ brains by comparing beautiful images of each slice, with the structures dyed for contrast.

“We’re looking at why people are so drawn to highly palatable foods – so those foods that taste good, like salt, sugar, fat,” said Kirkpatrick, “I look at the prefrontal cortex to see kind of what’s happening in those regions with perineuronal nets.”

Perineuronal nets are related to learning and memory and they can change when rats are exposed to different circumstances, such as a change in food. By studying these structures in each group, we can learn more about how the brain is changed by the addition, and sometimes the subsequent removal, of something like a high fat diet.

Rats, Food Addiction and Exercise

Another project that Kirkpatrick is working on is looking at the effect of exercise on the perineuronal nets of each diet group.

These rats are fed one of the two diets mentioned earlier and some animals from both diets are placed on an exercise regime. Later, when Kirkpatrick looks at their brains, she is looking to see if there is a difference between those rats that exercised and those that did not.

Rats and Drug Addiction

            Emily Jorgensen, a third-year grad student also in the Brown Lab is also interested in addiction and the effects on the brain, but she typically works with a little harder stuff than high-fat foods.

“There are some similarities that are emerging that are tying reward for food to reward with drugs of abuse such as cocaine – what I study specifically,” said Jorgensen, “I also work with a junk food diet that we make, and we study that to see if that reward pathway is similar to cocaine as well.”

To study how rats interact with cocaine, Jorgensen places them into a two-chambered box. In one chamber, they get a shot of saline. In the other, a shot of cocaine. She gives the rats time to learn which chamber gets which shot, and then she erases their perineuronal nets.

The main part of the erasing happens before the rats even go into the box, when Jorgensen adds tubes to the brain where the nets are. Then, after their learning period in the boxes, she adds an enzyme in the tubes that painlessly degrades the nets.

After removal of the nets, the rats no longer show a preference to the cocaine side of the box. But researchers are still not certain what is actually happening when the nets are removed.

“We don’t exactly know why – if they’re actually forgetting, if they’re losing that rewarding effect or if the nets are doing something else completely. So that’s what I’m trying to do right now is figure out exactly how those nets around cells are behaving,” said Jorgensen.

Emily Jorgensen poses with her microscope, affectionately named Doug. Doug is used to study live brain tissue from rats.


The long-term goal of Jorgensen’s work is to find a way to target these centers where memories are strengthened and consolidated and eliminate relapse events in drug addicts. Though there are promising data in rats, in her words, “we are lightyears away from clinical trials in humans.”

Science as a Lifestyle

Kirkpatrick and Jorgensen are both highly passionate about their fields of study, which is important in grad school.

“It is both a wonderful learning experience and extremely frustrating time. You find limits you didn’t know you had and you learn how to push past those limits,” said Amy Rhoad, another third-year grad student, and longtime friend of Kirkpatrick’s.

Kirkpatrick echoed similar sentiments about grad school and science.

She said “It’s really hard, and science can be incredibly frustrating sometimes because it doesn’t always go the way you want it to – it never goes away you want it to – but I think that that’s also kind of what’s beautiful about it. You’re always working and striving to learn something new and being really self-reflective on you as a researcher and kind of what’s happening with your data, to open up new questions. It’s an always thriving, growing field and I love that ’cause you never know everything.”



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Awkward Photojournalism

Our most recent assignment was a photojournalism assignment. I had a crazy booked schedule, so I only was able to get a couple of different shots that I happened upon. Only one of them actually turned out. Most of my pictures came from an intramural basketball game, which was actually really fun to watch!


Feature Photo

I kind of lucked out with the folllowing picture, in multiple ways. I spotted the bright yellow umbrella bobbing through the crowd as I walked towards work. I was hoping to catch up with it, but it seemed like it was continuing to stay just out of reach. I finally managed to catch it on the other side of the cross walk.

Letitia was very nice about allowing me to take her picture, but as I tried to take it, my phone froze up. I realized later that it was covered in melted snow, that was messing with the screen’s sensor for touch. I got one single picture of her. It just happened to turn out fairly well.

I love the play of the bright yellow color of her umbrella against her dark clothing and the white background.

I had no issues going up to her to ask if I could take her picture. I try to make a habit of complimenting strangers, which helped give me the confidence to ask.

“Sunshine in Snowy Weather” – Letitia Pinter, sheltered under her bright umbrella, walks towards the dorms on Tuesday morning. The real feel that Tuesday afternoon was 1 degree, with snow flurries.


The following pictures were taken at the same intramural basketball game. When I found out about the assignment, I looked at WyoCal, and I found no UW sports events, so I texted my group chat to see if I could find another event. One of my friends just happened to know that the intramural basketball games were on Wednesdays, so I headed to the gym for a study break (I found out later that there were a couple UW basketball games that week, but I was unable to attend them anyway, so it worked out!).

I tried to shuffle back and forth to different spots to get different angles, but due to the size of the area we were in, I was really limited in the areas I could go. I did take some shots of the teams during warm up and half time when I could go to different areas, but most of them were either too far away or they turned out blurry.

I took over 530 shots at this intramural game – most of them blurry or a mass of unidentifiable bodies. I also didn’t realize that my phone camera was in a weird setting for most of the game, so many of what would have otherwise been a nice picture turned out really grainy. I’m wondering if there are any editing software that can help with that, but that’s something I’ll have to play with another time.

Another thing that I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to take pictures of moving people and the ball! Many of my pictures feature blurry people running across the frame or a weirdly distorted ball flying through the air.

Several times, I set down my camera for a half second to actually watch the game, and I missed something that would have been a really cool shot, so I learned to basically watch the game through my camera. My reaction time could use a little work though, as I saw a lot of cool shots that I just barely missed in hitting the camera button.


Sports Action Photo

“Warm Ups” – Rachyl preps to toss the ball to her teammates as they warm up for the intramural basketball game on Wednesday. Intramural basketball season lasts from February 10 to March 14.


Other Photos

“Low-key Celebration” – Rachel and Heather hit a low five in celebration of another basket for their team. Excessive celebration can result in a foul, so a quick low five was the preferred celebration method for the black team.


“Aim is everything” – Heather lines up for a free throw during the intramural basketball game on Wednesday. The teams play for three weeks before their playoff games.


“She Shoots, She Scores!” – Heather and members of the opposing yellow team watch as one of her free throw shots falls through the basket near the end of the game. The last three minutes alone contained five fouls that resulted in free throw shots.