Christian Lopes is the sole undergrad taking up residence in Aquarius this week as part of FIU’s first research mission to the world’s only undersea laboratory.
“I’m an undergrad, a junior. I never thought I’d be able to do this,” Lopes said.
Of the four students who are living at Aquarius this week, Lopes has the least amount of professional experience under his belt. But the undergraduate assistant in professor James Fourqurean’s lab isn’t letting that stop him.
“I feel a level of responsibility that I have to keep up a certain expectation,” he said. “My colleagues do phenomenal work. They’re willing to cooperate with me so I have to do my work. Plus keeping classes in check and doing this at the same time is a challenge.”
Lopes maintains an active academic schedule. He’s in charge of public relations for the FIU Marine Aquarium Club, an officer for Scuba Cats and is also a Learning Assistant who presents to classes each Monday and Tuesday. This week, he’ll be teaching from the Aquarius Reef Base.
While at Aquarius, Lopes will also be testing two new instruments and collecting water samples for an investigation in the role that seagrass plays in South Florida in protecting reefs from the impacts of ocean acidification.
– By Jamie Giller