Finishing Field Work

Ok, so it’s the end of my 8th week of summer research and things seem like they’re finally starting to come together a little bit. Last week, Max Cunningham and I spent our last days in the field exploring variations in rock strength over the longitudinal profile of Renick Run. We spent 14 total days in the field and ended up with thousands of rock strength measurements for 19 cross sections. I am happy because I feel like we’ve accomplished something pretty rare; not many geomorphologists study any one stream as closely as I feel like we’ve studied Renick Run. Also, the initial data look encouraging. Though the results are noisy (and more to the point are Max’s research focus, not mine), there are some initial patterns that appear to show systematic changes in rock strength with cross-sectional channel geometry and distance along the longitudinal profile. But I’ll leave it to Max to discuss those in depth.

[Read more…]

The Associates of Dr. Bray Speak

Well, here comes the knitty gritty of what I have found so far– letters of correspondence between the Bray Associates and their American counterparts working with the Williamsburg Bray Schools. If anything, these letters may reveal the most to me about the day-to-day workings of the Williamsburg Bray School.

[Read more…]

Cowgirl Creamery

Today, I was reassured that I found the best topic to research. I borrowed a friend’s car and drove up to Marin County, which is roughly an hour away from where I’ve been staying in Berkeley. I went to tour Cowgirl Creamery, an organic artisanal cheese factory which is known for their potent Red Hawk cheese. Not only did I witness the beauty of cheese making, which is 85% cleaning and 15% cheese making, but I also had the opportunity to try nine varieties of cheese. Since I am always terrified of the cottage cheese my mother eats every morning, this was adventurous for me. I learnt that cheese is thought to predate wine; some believe that a brave soul once put milk into a bladder and traveled across the desert to find this process resulted in cheese! This is possible because the stomach enzymes in the bladders are necessary to separate the curds from the whey and heat allows the bacteria to grow. Today, cheese makers add the enzyme (which is easily purchased from any specialized cheese store) directly to the milk without putting the milk back into a bladder. Our tour guide used a high concentration of the enzyme that allowed my group to witness cheese making in a matter of seconds! Throughout this process he taught us how to make cheese at home from the “mother” cheese that one would typically buy in a grocery store. Although it may not produce award-winning results, if you add a dollop of your desired cheese (try crème fraîche with live active cultures) to cream and let the mixture sit in an oven set at the lowest temperature, the heat will allow the bacteria to spread to the rest of the milk, resulting in another batch of your favorite fresh cheese! Our tour guide also introduced us to MALT, an agricultural land trust founded by the owner of Cowgirl Creamery, Ellen Straus, in the 70’s to combat the development of agricultural land. In a unique and unprecedented manner, Ellen Straus and others bought the easement rights to many of the farms in Marin County, giving the farmers an influx of resources that they used to improve their land. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust helped many farmers get the economic support that they needed to make the change from conventional to organic growing methods. Seems to me like this could be a sustainable business model going forwards, perhaps more individuals, or companies could use this strategy to maintain farmland and provide economic support to struggling farmers. With all this useful information, I am finding that the tape recorder is proving to be a messy means to capture material. On tours, I have to squeeze my way to the front and make sure that the tour guide’s voice is in range of the recorder and with little background noise. If someone can help me think of a less pesky way to capture all my information I would be eternally grateful. Despite that nuisance, I was thrilled that I traveled out here. I took Highway One down the coast, jumped into the Pacific, and drove over the Golden Gate. All this is making me want to move out to California!

Off Balance Sheet Arrangements Measurement Phase 2

Hello again,

When we last left off, I was tasked with reading academic papers in order to find a proper measure of transparency that I would be able to use in the next stage of my work. This seemed like it would be a fairly easy assignment. However, I found that the number of papers discussing transparency in the context of off balance sheet arrangements was much smaller than I had originally hoped. Though I was able to more broadly look at papers on just transparency, eventually only one had the kind of measures that might work for my project.

[Read more…]

Research Makes Progress, And The Chance To Learn Something New

Hey everyone,

So far the studies are running great. The flyers were a great idea and have brought a steady stream of participants. Still, gathering 60 participants for three studies with one being exclusive have been really hard. We just got all 60 participants for Dot probe Familiarity 1 and I have begun data analysis. In addition to the studies, I’m also helping Professor Dickter and Professor Kieffaber with their book on how to work EEG software. Specifically I am learning how to operate the EEG software Analyzer; which no one knows how to do in the lab because we use Matlab here at William and Mary. This is helping me learn how to run the software and how to analyze EEG data. Hope everyone is having a great week!

[Read more…]