Research Buffet

Ok, so it is half way through the summer already and I have yet to post anything. I’ve been SUPER busy. Unfortunately, field work in the USVI didn’t happen because of permitting issues. Permit requirements are great for protecting the corals on the reef, but also a huge pain to work around when trying to do science on endangered species (most coral species). I arrived in Sarasota on June 14th, a whole two weeks earlier than I had originally planned. Since then, I have re-organized the data for my project (scoured through 4 different external hard drives for all of the files I needed), identified colonies of my species of interest and diseased colonies in 10 new sites (looked at pictures of coral until my eyes bled ),  merged the rows into sites (completed coral jigsaw puzzles), and helped with all of the other intern’s projects (took breaks from staring at my computer screen). My research can be extremely tedious and mind-numbing at times, BUT I love how it combines into a big picture conclusion in the end. And don’t let me fool you, I actually like working through all the computer work, but If I tell everybody that I like looking at thousands of pictures of coral, then they might start to think I’m crazy.

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That might be a bit of a stretch — Materials Testing System

In much of our research in the polymer lab, we’re looking to find molecular weights using the SEC-MALLS (Size Exclusion Chromatography — Multiple Angle Laser Light Scattering) and CIV (Corrected Intrinsic Viscosity). I’ve already written a blog post about CIV and I’ll save SEC-MALLS for later. But sometimes, we look at more than just the molecular weight — we’re looking at the mechanical properties of a sample of aged or fresh polymer.

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Aaaand We’re winding down

Well, my allotted time for is drawing to an end very quickly. The passed couple weeks have been very slow, so I am very excited to finish my job so that our data can be analyzed. The latter part of my research has mostly involved calculating average levels of variables such as empathetic concern, sympathy shown by participants as well as other factors that should describe how sympathetic or how prejudice the participants of the experiment were. Hopefully the results will worth reporting and statistically significant. It has been a lot of fun for me to spend time on campus in the summer and see first hand what goes into conducting research. It has been a cool experience living in Williamsburg for most of the summer. I’ve gotten more comfortable with the area, and I’ve made a few new friends as well.

Improvement as an experimenter

Although this post is not directly about the research project, I wanted to allocate at least a post on how the research experience have been beneficial for my personal improvement as  an experimenter so far.

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