Thursday, July 25, 2013

Keeping it real in California

I know the team thinks I was just relaxing on the beach during my recent trip to California. Think again!  I happened to catch a lecture by Dr. Geoffrey West, given for the 'Complexity Group' ( at Stanford University. He gave a very interesting talk on metabolic scaling that was highly relevant to our research (despite the 167 slides!).  He had some fascinating new nuggets about aging and companies.

Friday, July 19, 2013

MacGyver-ing around the lab

When Tanner handed me a tea steeper and a piece of a plastic channel and said "connect this somehow..."  I quickly harnessed my MacGyver-chi and went searching around the lab for parts to complete this engineering task.  About 15 minutes of grumbling and mumbling, fumbling with rubber bands and zip-ties, I emerged from the lab with a Frankenstein-esque work of biomass-catching art.  Conveniently detachable for easy removal, I might add.  And the best part is, these puppies cost $0.00;  all of the materials can be dismantled and put right back in the lab. Cup-holder to come on edition 2.0.  We installed them the next day on Tanner's channels, and what do you know, they work! 
The idea was that there was a lot of biomass being schluffed off the channels and we wanted a way to capture it as to get an accurate representation of how much of what is actually being grown/moved around the tiles.  The result is this (quite colorful) hodge-podge of pencils and baskets and rubber bands. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Last big bang awaits us...

With the 4-week and 6-week sampling under our belts, we're all feeling pretty comfortable with our methods now as we're heading in the last sampling period.  Now with an added twist of trying a little side project of my own, we'll see how this next week will go.  The weather hasn't been very conducive to warm, sunny summer field work, but hey- when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  This next week will consist of getting Ryan Jones' (Montana State University) samples, my side project of tile transplants (we'll be moving tiles from the +10 and +20 treatments into the +15 channel and we'll measure metabolism after 2 hours and again after 3 days of incubation), Tanner's regular metabolism data, N-up, P-up and Jill Welter's nitrogen fixation runs.  We had a long day in the field last week when Jill and her crew decided to do three (yes, three) methods of nitrogen fixation in one day. It actually went relatively smoothly given that none of us had done anything quite to that scale ever, and overlapping the methods turned out to be a lot shorter of an endeavor than going out over several days.

All in all, the summer is coming to an end and there's a bitter sweet mood in the air- Iceland is just such a cool place, it definitely has brought out my inner nerd more than ever.  Spending time in such a relatively new country really puts a new perspective on how you view the world and no doubt inspires a more thorough examination and interpretation of the landscapes we live in.

After one of our days in the field, we came home to a beautiful rainbow framed by the blooming lupines.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th from the far north!

The experimental channels turn 6 weeks old and biomass is exploding in the warm treatments. We're pretty excited that the treatment effect we noticed early on is still holding strong. We just completed another full round of sampling over the past 3 days, and now we wait until our final sample event two weeks from now. What will they look like then?   

Photos taken June 27th, 2013