05 August 2012

Too [Little] Time on My Hands

It's been a little while since I've updated this, here's a little preview of the last month or so.

I've been taking a summer course at URI called Field Botany, which is what has been eating up all my free time.
We had over 300 plants, like these, to learn to identify over the course of about a month.

Leucanthemum vulgare.

Nymphoides odorata.

Pycnanthemum muticum.

Chimaphila maculata.

Toxicodendron radicans.

I've also been out to the salt marshes that we are studying.
Barrington, RI.

Sea water samples, and a CrossFit workout.

Digging out some sediment cores.

The bigger news is that my experiment, determining the relationship between time and Nitrogen-fixation, has begun. We've collected, incubated and are at this moment analyzing the sediment samples. More on that later.

01 June 2012


So, I was in the lab, rinsing some glassware, rocking out to Led Zeppelin Radio, when a fire fighter stepped in and told me to 'vacate the premises'... total buzz kill.

I love Zeppelin.

Apparently, the EPA across the street broke a gas main.

I love irony.

And long weekends, hope you enjoy yours!

24 May 2012


The other day in the lab, in preparation for a collection day this weekend, there were more dishes to do...

... more of this...

admittedly, I'm a bit of a self-diagnosed OCD

... and this...

but it makes for better photos

... and sharks!

I also had the opportunity to observe (and try my hand at) the end stages of a previous experiment. Several core samples had been dug up and were being carefully incubated. Water from the cores were taken at various times to measure the changes in nitrogen concentration (in two of its common forms) over time. I was able to get my hands 'wet' and filter a few of these samples.

08 May 2012

Shall We Start at the Beginning?

After a quick tour of the facilities, I was set upon the task of acid washing the lab equipment and glassware. Everything that is used for the collections and experiments on this project must be completely free of nutrient contaminants so as not to give any false readings in the data.

The process involves a thorough scrubbing, a rinse under deionized water, several hours submerged in hydrochloric acid, and another three rinses (again, with DI water).

my lab station, a.k.a. the wash basin

the fume hood, where the acid baths lie.

some clean dishes

more of my handy-work

In practice though, this was much like doing the dishes at home... with hydrochloric acid.