Linear Algebra and Cupcakes

I’ve been here in Williamsburg for almost two weeks. I arrived last Tuesday. There was no easing into the research experience. We jumped right into learning techniques from linear algebra and differential equations that would help us explore and better understand the model we’ve been working with. I worked on this project during the last semester (meeting only twice a week rather than every day), but the amount of progress we have made and math I been exposed to just in these two weeks has already surpassed what we accomplished.

Our first task was to understand simpler models similar to ours, so that we can determine if our conclusions make sense. We learned about a 1-dimensional and a 2-dimensional population models and really got to understand their behavior. The model that we use for zooplankton population is similar in construction but with more parameters and 13-dimensions (woah!).
We have used similar manipulation techniques on the zooplankton model already, but have only begun to understand what the results mean. That will be our next task.

I feel as though I have been here long enough to reflect how I feel about my experience. I do really enjoy what I have been doing. Five hours a day of learning and discussing linear algebra, programing in Matlab, and then staring in frustration when your seemingly perfect script won’t work can wear a person out. By the end of the day, I am definitely ready for a nap. It has been a challenge, but one that I enjoy and am motivated to pursue; and I can’t wait to see where this model takes us.

For fun: Last weekend, I decided to bake some cupcakes for friends and to share with the lab. I think they turned out pretty well, so I’ve also attached the recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes (yum!). I have a feeling I’ll be baking a few times this summer, and if I come across any good recipes, I’ll share them.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcake Recipe