Final Thoughts: Much More Work to be Done

I cannot believe my time at the Natural History Museum is at a close. The 10 weeks I spent there were filled with fun and exciting days and I have made many friends that I will be keeping in contact with in the future. While I am now happy I don’t have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning anymore, I will admit my last day was bittersweet since I will miss everyone there and all of the things I learned through my research. I will miss the wonderful tours that the intern department allowed all of the interns to go on and learning about various fields of science that I previously had limited knowledge of. It was truly an experience that I will never forget.

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Winding Down

I cannot believe that I will soon be done working at the Natural History Museum soon. It seems like it was yesterday that I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 AM to catch a bus to D.C. for my first day of work. Now, waking up that early hardly annoys me and it’s so much fun going into D.C. every week day. Not only am I conducting research, but I am also learning what it is like for many people who have to commute every day for their jobs. Like I said in an earlier post, I have definitely gained a greater appreciation for people who have to partake in this commute every work day for their entire careers. While I have gotten used to the commute, I don’t know if I could do this for a long-term job. This summer has truly been a learning experience in more ways than just research.

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Update from Washington: More of the Same

Since I last posted, not much has really changed in terms of what I am currently working on. There are still many cards to be looked at for their relevancy to my project and I will then need to scan the important ones for analysis. I’ll admit that this can be at times a bit tedious, but I know that doing this is very important, because there is so much information that can be gained from these cards. It is imperative to gain an accurate understanding about what insects were around American chestnuts before blight was introduced in order to understand what impact blight has had on insect populations. As of right now, I have scanned around 3500 cards and will continue to scan more this week. I will hopefully be done with scanning in the next few days and will then discuss with my mentor what will be the next appropriate step. We will see what happens next!

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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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Update From Washington, DC

After a few weeks of getting used to waking up early and learning what it’s like to be a D.C. commuter, I am now well acquainted with my research at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I will admit that I initially struggled to get into a groove that allowed me to be productive, while making sure that I was able to get to D.C. on time. My schedule for the reminder of my time in D.C. consists of waking up at 5:40 AM and then catching the 6:40 commuter bus near my house in Prince William County, Virginia which takes me directly to downtown D.C. I usually arrive (traffic permitting) to the Natural History Museum around 8:00 and leave a little after 4:00 PM to catch the 4:30 bus which on most days allows me to arrive home by 6:15, although there have been days that I haven’t gotten home until 7:00. While this was hard for me at first, I now have no problem waking up early and am able to sleep on the bus to  and from D.C. and have learned to go to bed relatively early. I have developed a newfound respect for commuters and anyone else that has to wake up at very early hours of the day.

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