MLML Student Life in the 1990s

By Erica J. Burton ( 8 July 2016)

Being a MLML student during the post-earthquake 90s meant learning, working, studying, and maybe living (caretakers) in the Salinas trailers (Fig. 1). Sitting in the middle of agriculture fields may have made a student question their recent arrival and admission to the lab. However, the Salinas office staff (including Gail Johnston and Sandy Yarbrough) made students feel welcome and connected to their home campuses. The Librarians, Sheila Baldridge and Sandy O’Neill, took great interest in the students and their projects; and could always retrieve the most obscure, needed references. And the faculty had an energetic quality that inspired, united, and promoted the student body.

Figure 1. Tomo Eguchi and Erica Burton doing Statistics Class homework in Salinas trailer study room (which also served as journal and map storage, TV room, computer lab, copier room, snack and soda machine vending, and lounge area).


As a first-year student, you may have attended a core class (or two) in the triple-wide trailer on the island in Moss Landing (neighbors to the bait & tackle shop, and the original Phil’s Fish Market (Fig. 2); land now occupied by the MLML aquaculture facility).   Also on the island was (is) the MLML Small Boat and Diving Operations building (Fig. 3); a student’s gateway to small boat usage in Elkhorn Slough or SCUBA diving field work (Fig. 4).

Figure 2. Phil’s Fish Market where lunches or fish specimens were acquired (1992).


Figure 3. MLML Small Boats and Diving operations (1992). Gateway to Elkhorn Slough and SCUBA diving fieldwork.


Figure 4. John Heine’s Dive Class aboard R/V Ricketts. Pictured left to right: Tony Orr, Erica Burton, Michele Jacobi, Matt Edwards.


Although the temporary MLML campuses were separated by ~16 miles, the MLML community was tight-knit, and chock-full of camaraderie and can-do attitudes. There was nothing we couldn’t do (or at least try). Close-quarters in the trailer labs may have aided our tight-knit community, as shown in the Ichthyology Lab (Fig. 5).

Figure 5. Fish-ageing quarter of the Ichthyology Lab Trailer. Pictured left to right: Korie Johnson, Schaeffer, Dawn Outram, and Julie Neer.


Class projects and thesis work brought students together. Students were always willing to lend a hand; near or far. It could have been an ecology class project collecting rocky intertidal fishes, manipulative experiments in Stillwater Cove, class cruises aboard the R/V Point Sur and R/V Ricketts (Figs. 6, 7), or convincing excuses to conduct field work in Baja California, Mexico (Fig. 8).

Figure 6. Fall 1993 Ecology Class cruise aboard R/V Point Sur (posing on dock). Pictured: Back Row, left to right: Jon Kao, unknown, Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere, unknown, unknown, Jonna Engel, Elaine Herr, Dave Lindquist, Michelle White, Sean McDermott, Lisa Kerr Lobel, Erica Burton, unknown; Front Row, left to right: Kit Muhs, Dr. Gregor Cailliet, Noel Cristimoto (?), Barbie Byrd, Korie Johnson Schaeffer, Rebecca Reuter, Eli Landrau Woodvine, Leigh Nerney, and Bill Leopold.


Figure 7. Fall 1993 Fisheries Class cruise aboard R/V Ricketts. Pictured left to right: Heather, Leigh Nerney, Erica Burton, Dr. Gregor Cailliet, Dawn Outram, and Karl Mayer.


Figure 8. Spotted Sand Bass ageing fieldwork crew in Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico during Spring Break 1994. Pictured left to right: Shirley Andrews, Cheryl Baduini Zaricki, Korie Johnson Schaeffer, Tony Bennett, Tanya Sozanski Bennett, Erica Burton, Lara Ferry, Lisa Kerr Lobel, Doreen Moser Gurrola, and Allen Andrews.


Graduate school kept us busy days, nights, weekdays, and weekends. But those who worked hard also found time to let off steam at house parties, local watering holes, extracurricular sports, poker games, bus rides to a SF baseball/football game, ski trips, etc. The Blue House (Fig. 9) was a good place to start or end an evening; and typically involved a crooked stroll to, and from, Ray’s (aka The Moss Landing Inn). House parties may have had a live band, and there was almost always dancing involved. Monterey hot spots included Doc Ricketts, Players, Planet Gemini, Blue Fin Billiards, karaoke at the Marriott, Mucky Duck, and $2-Tuesdays at the Dream Theater (Fig. 10). The annual Bowling Tournament among faculty, staff, and students was always a big hit (Figs. 11, 12). And occasionally, faculty would host a their own lab party (Fig. 13).

Figure 9. Dancing at Blue House party. Pictured left to right: Jonna Engel, Karen Crow, unknown, Mark Pranger, and Lara Ferry.


Fig_10_Dream Theater
Figure 10. Dream Theater marquee, Monterey.


Figure 11. Dive Instructor John Heine and Dr. Ken Johnson at Bowling Tournament, looking confident in claiming bowling trophy. In background: Michelle Lander, Michele Jacobi, Cheryl Baduini Zaricki, Brendan Daly, and MLML students.


Figure 12. Team B.U.I. at 1997 Bowling Tournament. Pictured left to right: Pat Iampietro, Matt Edwards (with arm in sling; what a trouper!), Erica Burton, and Stewart Lamerdin.


Figure 13. Dr. Greg Cailliet holds court at his Ichthyology Lab house party. Pictured left to right: Rick Starr, Greg Cailliet, Lisa Ziobro de Marignac, Allen Andrews, Joe Bizzarro, and Jean de Marignac.


During the 90s, there was a constant effort to rebuild the lab; especially for the faculty and staff. But the students were involved, too. It was part of our psyche. There were awareness campaigns; Open House events to let the public know we were still part of the community and that we’d return to Moss Landing; visits to the Salinas courthouse for hearings; and finally celebratory events on the hill (Fig. 14).  The new lab opened in January 2000. Many of the students during the trailer years would never occupy the new lab. But, I think many would agree, the 90s weren’t about the lack of a permanent lab structure; they were about the MLML spirit, quality of education, and long-lasting friendships that were made during our Salinas years.

Figure 14. MLML Ground Breaking ceremony on the hill, September 1997. Pictured left to right: Allen Andrews, Korie Johnson Schaeffer, Brendan Daly, Ned Laman, and Tony Orr (holding souvenir shovel, “MLML, We’re Back!”).