First Post-Archives Thoughts

As the new semester begins to dawn over the horizon, I’m back in the US fresh from the British Museum. Archives research is quite a tedious process, involving lots and lots of reading of information that is frankly useless to my project. However, I was able to find lots of bits that will undoubtably be invaluable as I begin to write. As I compile everything I will have a much more detailed post in the future, but for now I’ll just share this one tidbit. After Oscar Wilde was convicted of “indecency” and imprisoned, the British Museum’s Board of Trustees decided to ban him from ever using the Reading Room again, even after he was released. In addition, they refused to write in the crime he had committed that led to his imprisonment. All in all the trip was definitely worth it, even if now I have so much work to do!

Right Writing

I know I mentioned in an earlier post (maybe the first one?) that I’m working on a second project this summer.  A writing project.  (Cue ominous music.)  A former student in the lab (who is currently a third year grad student at Johns Hopkins) left behind the draft of a manuscript that he and Dr. Heideman have been trying to finish for a few years.  Dr. H. gave me the reins on it for the summer because neither he nor Jordan are able to give it their full attention right now, but hopefully with me bugging them about it and doing my best to push it forward we can submit it to Hormones and Behavior by the deadline of September 30th.

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I began excavation at the Church of the Good Shepherd site  Monday the 22nd, and will finish tomorrow.  I will spend the rest of my time here cleaning, identifying, and analyzing the artifacts I have recovered.  I put in two test units, on on the inside of the wall and one on the outside.  The first test unit, the one dug on the inside of the wall, stopped when I reached what appeared to be a prepared stone surface.  The second test unit was much deeper and ended at the base of the wall, over a meter into the ground.

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Viral concentrates, also known as liquid gold.

My job, besides the field work, was to create a library of viral concentrates and calculate the abundance of virus like particles and bacterial cells in each sample.  The viral concentrates would be used later in RAPD-PCR to provide a general image of the community composition over time, and in conjunction with the abundance counts, I can get an idea of whether the amount of microbes is changing, just the community, or both.

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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?

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