The Early Days

Field work. 

Research in an environmental virology lab logically has a hefty environmental component.  My particular project this summer requires analysis of the effects of storm events on the microbial composition of a stormwater retention pond.  In order to determine shifts in the microbial community, it is necessary to monitor the community consistently.  How would one complete this task?

Field work, my friends, is the beginning of the answer to that question.  Twice daily for the first few weeks of this summer, I collected environmental samples from William and Mary’s “Grim Dell”.  The Grim Dell is a fairly mucky and unloved part of the College, but through sampling, I have gained a whole new appreciation for the amount of life it has been able to sustain.  Snakes, turtles, frogs, fish, oh my!  Also, I would like to take a moment to thank the constructors of the Grim Dell for creating a rocky path to the water.  You lovely people kept me from falling headfirst into muck, and I appreciate your foresight.

But I digress.

Each time I collected an aquatic sample from the Grim Dell, half was stored for later chemical analysis and the other half was treated to immediate analysis in the Williamson microbial ecology lab. At the time of collection, I also attained data on the current state of the pond.  Salinity, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature were all written down and saved.

This data was later used to create an NMDS plot in order to determine correlation between variables.