Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Looking back at a great summer

Hello! I am Brooke Weigel, the REU student on the project this summer. I was in Iceland from the 15th of June until the 6th of August. This summer was a fantastic learning experience – from both living in another country, far away in the middle of the Atlantic, and through the invaluable research experience that I gained working with many inspiring grad students and mentors. It was very exciting to be part of the first summer of the project, since we had to creatively adapt our sampling equipment and procedures, among other things, as the streams required . For example, during the July landscape sampling we did “nutrient slugs” on all of the streams (and almost all in one day!). During one slug on Stream 5, Wyatt and I discovered that the salt was traveling downstream at a much slower rate than was calculated previously. In the photo you can see Jim coming to the rescue with his computer; we quickly adapted to the new travel time and modified our timing of the water samples in order to capture all of the NaCl breakthrough curve. One of the most valuable things I learned this summer is that science is always a work in progress!

In addition to helping out with the July landscape sampling, Adam and I conducted an experiment to examine the influence of temperature on the processes of benthic nutrient uptake and metabolism (see previous blog post). It was fun and challenging to come up with the procedure for sampling these chambers, since they are usually only used for metabolism. At the very end of the summer, Adam and I worked hard analyzing the data for six of the streams that we sampled. I hope to be able to continue analyzing and interpreting at the data in preparation for the NABS science conference next year.

In addition to acquiring tons of great data, we had some time to explore the beautiful country of Iceland. Here is a photo of me scuba diving in a part of the mid-Atlantic rift, which runs through Lake ├×ingvellir and divides the North American and Eurasian plates. The water was even colder than stream 13 – it was only 3 °C! After the project was completed, our group had a wonderful time up at Lake Myvatn. From there, I traveled around the East Fjords and down along the south coast of the island. This summer was fantastic! Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

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