(Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences-Microbial Ecology Laboratory)

Coffee, An Empty Lab And One Excited Puppy: Update From Back Home

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While all of you have been off digging pits and sampling permafrost (I hail to your diligence), Rosie the dog and I have been listening to the cool symphony of monsoon season while sipping Starbucks Iced Frappes and staring at the decimated emergency coffee fund. To survive my lonely work day, I usually perforate my time with Pandora jam out sessions, which is pretty impressive if I do say so myself… considering how difficult it is to get down and funky to classical music and Disney radio…

I’m not complaining, actually. Much has happened back home in the sweltering (104 degrees to be exact) heat of Bear Down Country. First off, I’m happy to announce that some graphs have finally been generated, comparing the two islands Dunk and Fitzroy along Australia’s Queensland coast, spanning a pollution gradient. If you’ll recall, Fitzroy is located further from the mouth of the Tully River, making it less polluted than Dunk Island.

When I took my first peek at what was to be done on the infamous (and glitchy) program called QIIME, I’ll be honest, I balked. But thanks to my lovely lab mates, Cricket and Simon, a bit of help from RJ and of course we can’t forget our wonderful PI Dr. Virginia Rich, it turned out to be a project well worth the time, and less painful than I envisioned it to be.

I think the most striking part of this project, for me at least, is how capable such small little critters are in buffering reef systems, through uptake and transformation. While no conclusions have been made yet, we have indeed found strong evidence to indicate that the microbial community composition has been reflecting human change. In fact, here’s a press release that I just recently wrote regarding the fascinating strain of archaea, Thermoplasmatales:

Exploring the Secret Life of Archaea

There’s still more to be done, but I feel that we’re making a good amount of progress just over this summer alone. I would love to go into more detail later, especially since this project is drawing to a close. And I can’t WAIT to get into the more long term, Abisko project. Just today I geeked out over the basic background and proposal. Either that or I was about to go into a caffeine induced coma. Regardless, my environmentalist background is kicking in, so anyone about to return should be warned that our infamous little puppy won’t be the only one jumping about the lab space.

I hope you all have an extraordinary time, however much is left of it, over in Sweden. I’ll be leaving for Flagstaff myself this upcoming Wednesday. I hope to see you all after I return on the 14th of August!  Have fun making science happen! 🙂



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