We Are the Scientists

March 14, 2014

Amanda Nagy

"It's about as far from the ocean as you can get," says Marie Lilly of her hometown, Urbana, Illinois. Despite the distance, however, she found herself engaged in important work in sea life conservation.

This winter term, Lilly volunteered with the Institute for Field Research Experience (IFRE) in Costa Rica, where she worked as part of a team that studied sea turtles' in-water behavior. Her days started at 8 a.m. in the Golfo Dulce, in southern Costa Rica, where the team caught turtles in nets, measured them, tagged them, took tissue samples, and released them back into the water.

Though this is Lilly's first year at Oberlin, this is the second conservation-related endeavor that she's undertaken. Last year, while taking a gap year between graduating high school and matriculating at Oberlin, she volunteered with IFRE in Peru, working on an ecological restoration project. She also attended Power Shift, a gathering of youth environmental leaders in Pittsburgh, during fall break.

Though undeclared, Lilly says that she's interested in majoring in biology and environmental science and continuing this kind of conservation work. "There was one moment, I remember, when we were like 'Why doesn't anyone know about sea turtle's behavior in water already?' and then we were like 'oh, wait, that's what we're doing. We are the scientists.'"

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