March Madness

I am currently in preparation for complete madness here in the lab.  It’s March, and I have so much to do!  So many samples to run, and so many basketball games to watch.  Lucky for me, the two mesh quite well.

Necessary lab equipment: gloves, lab notebook, water bottle, laptop, and live stream of college basketball championships

Necessary lab equipment: gloves, lab notebook, water bottle, laptop, and live stream of college basketball championships.

My supervisor, Dr. Brian Popp, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, earned his masters and PhD at the University of Illinois, and worked as a post-doc at Indiana University — all great Big Ten college basketball schools that are seeded #4 (South), #7 (East), and #1 (South), respectively, in the 2013 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament that started this week.  This is fortunate for me, as he kindly tolerated my obsession with streaming the conference tournament games last week, and will hopefully continue to tolerate the streaming (and occasional subdued cheering) of the NCAA tournament games — men’s and women’s — over the next few weeks…

Isolated amino acids of the second batch of olive ridley skin samples, prepped and ready for analysis.

Isolated amino acids of the second batch of ETP olive ridley skin samples, prepped and ready for analysis.

But this year, March isn’t just jam-packed with entertaining basketball games; I have LOTS of work to do while I’m at UH.  Last week, I finished prepping a second batch of nine olive ridley skin samples for compound-specific analysis of amino acids.  Voilà!

March 13, 2013 was a great day for in-water honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) monitoring in Kona, Hawaii.

March 13, 2013 was a great day for in-water honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) monitoring in Kona, Hawaii.

Last Wednesday, I ventured out of the lab and traveled to the Big Island to assist Dr. George Balazs and his team from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) with their in-water green sea turtle monitoring.  It was really fun to visit another island and have the opportunity to work with the HPA students for the day.  My friend and colleague from Oregon State University, Susie Hilber, was in town working with Dr. Balazs on a Hawaiian green sea turtle population dynamics project.  I have asked her to write a guest blog about her work, so stay tuned!

The "Thermo Finnigan Trace GC Combustion III" IRMS (the white box on the far left), is where all the isotopic analysis magic happens!

The “Thermo Finnigan Trace GC Combustion III” IRMS (the white box on the far left), is where all the stable isotope analysis magic happens!

This week, I’m taking a break from sample prepping (I have one more batch to prep) and I’m beginning to run my samples from Batch 1 on the isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS).  In the picture to the right, the IRMS is the white box to the far left.  From now on, I’ll be spending my time carefully injecting my samples into this instrument, and talking to it using the desktop computer pictured in the middle.  In my next blog, after I’ve spent a lot of quality time with these machines, I’ll explain a bit about what’s behind the curtain and describe the magic that happens inside the IRMS, and the type of data it generates.  Note: basketball is still streaming on the laptop.

Aloha!

A juvenile green sea turtle basking on the coast of Kona, Hawaii.

A juvenile green sea turtle basking on the coast of Kona, Hawaii.

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2 responses to “March Madness

  1. Pingback: A Tale of a Turtle Model(er) | Turtles in the Deep·

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