Last Week at the Smithsonian: Cards and More Cards

This past week at the Natural History Museum has been a very productive and exciting one. After putting the finishing touches on the two databases I have been working on as described in my previous blog post, I have moved onto a new phase in my research. On the floor below where I am working at the Natural History Museum, there are many drawers filled with cards in a similar style to the Hopkins Cards that contain taxonomic information on insects. To my surprise, there were two full drawers of cards that relate to insect associations on American chestnuts that date back before blight. These cards can prove to be very useful, since they can help me gain an idea of what kind of biodiversity was occurring on American chestnuts before blight was introduced. Upon consultation with my adviser at the Smithsonian, it was determined that I should scan all pertinent cards into a PDF and will then enter their information onto another database. I have so far scanned over 1500 cards and have about half of a drawer left to scan. I hope to begin sifting through the scanned cards and gather important information to help further this project. It will be interesting to see what will happen this week based on what information is gathered from these new cards. Whatever course of action I plan to take, I will definitely have my work cut out for me!

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Walk Like an Egyptian Woman

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A Feel for Kampala

With two weeks in Kampala under my belt, I’ve begun to recover from my initial culture shock and acclimate to daily life in a developing metropolis. For this previously-uninitiated Westerner, that has required a great deal of compromise and a budding tolerance for boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) on Kampala’s perpetually gridlocked, street sign-less roads. In this time, I’ve begun my work with Transparency International Uganda (TI-U), where I am working to visualize and interpret the spatial data in their “Action for Transparency” program, as well as assist my co-workers in gaining familiarity with geospatial data and tools to increase their internal technical capacity.

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Interpretation of Phase Imaging

I’ve been using Atomic Force Spectroscopy for over half a year now. And among the past 6 months I spent most of my time with contact mode. But now I prefer tapping mode because contrast in phase images almost always amazes me.

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