The Final Countdown

We are in the last week of research this summer – what a ride it has been. Reflecting on the past few months, I have never endured such an intense period of rigorous academic investment. In the few days left I am finishing up my dataset and performing statistical analysis.

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The goal for this summer was to have sampling, DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and fragment analysis sent off (to be later analyzed) completed on all 400 of the subsamples. Sampling and DNA extraction were finished. PCR unfortunately was not, delaying fragment analysis as well. Though the PCR protocol was developed during spring semester of 2017, new primers and a host of other problems made this step tricky. The first batch sent off for analysis came back blank, requiring adjusting of the protocol and the second had nebulous results. A delay in shipment meant that only 3 of the 7 primers were available for much of the summer. However, all extractions were completed successfully, and in the last remaining weeks of July, PCR was done on all 400 of the plants for 3 of the primers. All PCR products were shipped off for fragment analysis. Training began on using a fragment analysis software, so once results do come back, analysis will be smoother.

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Wrapping Up with only Minor Hiccups: Part Four

Hello Charles Center blog patrons! As my time spent researching this summer comes to a close, I am grateful to have this space to reflect on all that I’ve learned, and all the ways that I’ve grown this summer. I am so grateful to the Charles Center for allowing me to truly embrace my passion for mental health and gender differences. This opportunity is definitely a rarity, even in the realm of academia. It has been such an honor to seize this fortune every single day.

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The Program Problem

Python has consumed the majority of my time this summer. Each line of code has taken hours to create; the annals of Python Central have been my respite from confusion. Although costing my sanity, the product of these hours is a comprehensive understanding of Python data-mining. Moving forward I am now far more confident in my ability to program/analyze data on a larger scale.

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Reaching out to the community – surveys

With less than a week before I fly back to America, I can safely say that I’m very happy with the work I have done here at Scotland’s Rural College. Over the last couple of weeks I have left the construction of my paper on the back burner for now so that I can dedicate time to collecting the data I need for it, which is really exciting! With the guidance of my advisor here at the college, I crafted a survey to send out to agricultural advisors in order to gather their opinions of food production and the environment. Dr. Barnes made a similar survey which has previously been sent out to farmers, and so the questions were only slightly modified in order for us to get parallel information which will let us directly compare the opinions of farmers and their advisors. In this way we can get a sense of whether these two groups, which should be working in tandem, actually see things the same, or if there are major differences which could be hindering the uptake of sustainable agricultural practices. The survey was sent off this morning, so now all that’s to be done is wait until people start responding! While I only have a few more days to work with Dr. Barnes in person, I will still be a part of the team even while back in America so that I can help analyse the data and then finish the paper I started less than 2 months ago. It will be incredibly satisfying to see this project through to the end and I am excited to see what data we get and what it can tell us about the future of sustainable farming.