Second Week

Here I will summarize the second week of my study concerning mercury and corticosterone in wrens:

Monday-Wednesday

I desiccated more feathers in preparation for some more tests to control for mass. There appears to be much variation in feather mass in both species. I did find, however, that picking feathers at random was likely the cause of this. I now will try to use feathers of the same type across all samples, but this may be tricky as I only categorized “body feathers” during organization. Consequentially, it will probably be necessary to weigh each individual sample.

I also learned how to perform an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to test for corticosterone. IĀ found that even the slightest amount of error can ruin results completely, so I will have to be especially cautious. Luckily, the ELISA I performed this week was a practice kit. Additionally, I got to use a repeater pipette that will make everything much easier.

Thursday-Friday

I have also learned how to use a UV-Vis spectrometer this week. This does not necessarily pertain to my project, but I am learning to use it to help my grad student with hers. The instrument measures reflectance across a spectrum of light wavelengths (in this case, 150-900 nm). While it is tedious and sensitive, I am happy to help someone who has been helping me and to learn new skills as I improve as a scientist.

Next week, I will work some more on the UV-Vis and probably sort the data from that into Microsoft Excel.

Until next week!

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