In Summary

In Summary

This summer was an excellent opportunity for me. I was able to experience real science on the front lines. This program validated all my years of science education.

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Seventh Week

Seventh Week

This week was like a final sprint to the line. There was much work to be done in a small time frame. Samples were weighed, measured, washed, and extracted. We often had more than 50 samples at various stages of the process. It was a lot to keep track of, so half of my notes were from this week alone. In the week I was gone, it was found that the DMA requires more mass than previously believed to accurately calculate mercury in feathers specifically. This complicated things for a couple samples, but overall wasn’t too much.

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Sixth Week

Sixth Week

John fixed everything! The integration time was set to be too long on the spectrometer. We still have to scan all the feathers again, but anything is better than Excel at this point. Now, the data has 2 tiny peaks (as opposed to 8 before), and finding range was easy. I was also able to run a calculation in Excel that replaces the excluded data with a linear regression automatically. I corrected the data in less than 10 minutes.

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Fifth Week

Fifth week

This week I have been trying to solve this artificial peak problem. It appears the peaks are all in the same place for each scan, but there are more than 1100 data points per scan. The professor who owns the spectrometer (whose name is John) is still abroad. He says that he cannot solve the issue over email, so we are forced to wait until he returns.

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Fourth Week

Fourth Week

This week I am learning how to perform the methanol extraction. Corticosterone has an affinity for methanol and can be extracted rather quickly from a feather. Additionally, methanol is volatile and can easily evaporate and leave behind the CORT. A CORT sample can be ready within a week. We utilized a shaking water bath and a sonicating water bath to facilitate the extraction.

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