The adventurer: Visualizing my journey as a scientist and Hollings intern through animation

Hi, I'm TreVaughn Ellis, a 2022 Hollings scholar. This summer I had the opportunity to work with the National Marine Fisheries Service in the Recruitment Energetics and Costal Assessment group at the Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau, Alaska. My project investigated some of the unknowns about lamprey in their juvenile stage. Through my internship I got to do a wide range of activities, from collecting my own samples in the field to conducting my own experiments. Coming from the East Coast, the world I was immersed in over the summer was new, exciting, and at times, challenging.


TreVaughn smiles, sitting on an aluminum fishing boat loaded with field equipment. He's dressed for aquatic fieldwork in cold weather.

TreVaughn Ellis, a 2022 Hollings scholar, out for fieldwork during his internship at Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau, Alaska. (Image credit: Courtesy of TreVaughn Ellis)

I’ve wanted to be a marine scientist since I was a kid, and this summer I could hear my inner self saying: “No way this is real, this must be a dream.” In an unexplainable way, sometimes I would see myself in a third person point of view as I did what I couldn’t have imagined myself doing. I made a small animation of some moments and motifs that stuck in my head from my time in Alaska. Through my art, I think I’ve managed to capture some of that feeling for me, and it is my hope that those who see it are inspired to chase after that feeling, too.

Revving up

Starting the outboard on one of the lund boats was a battle. I had never done it before and it took a lot of tries. That experience parallels a lot of my experiences in science. A battle that takes patience and persistence, but once the engine starts, it takes off.

Guiding star

I found myself looking at the sky a lot during field work. There’s a song (California by Berhana) that evokes “a yellow star above the clouds to light the way,” and this piece visualizes how I interpreted that line in my own life. 


This part of the animation takes a more abstract form and faster pace. The summer was so busy and full of adventure it almost felt like a blur. When taking the time to self reflect, I created this montage of moments that stuck out: catching my samples, looking through the microscope, literature review, and, of course, falling in the water (yikes).

The adventurer

This clip just combines each of the sections into one big piece. It is titled as it is because it is how I’ve come to see myself and my journey with science. From my time in the Yukon to the exploration of the data: I am an adventurer.

Photos from TreVaughn's internship

TreVaughn Ellis, 2022 Hollings scholar

TreVaughn is a 2022 Hollings scholar studying biology at The American University.