The man (and women) behind the curtain

Well, tomorrow is my last day in the UH Biogeochemical Stable Isotope Lab.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and its been wildly productive!  I have worked through most of my samples (wish I could say all… I’ll be working up to the last hour for the final push!), and I have learned a lot.  And I may have mentioned this, but Oahu has provided a lovely backdrop for my studies, which has made my time out of the lab just as enjoyable.

There is a team of amazing people that make this lab tick, and without them, I’d be lost.  In addition to conducting their own analyses, they handle a revolving door of visiting scientists with aloha and a smile.  It’s quite impressive.  Please allow me to introduce you to the man, and women, behind the curtain:

Brian gave me a beautiful birthday lei -- I love this Hawaiian custom!

Brian gave me a beautiful birthday lei — I love this Hawaiian custom!

Dr. Brian Popp is a distinguished biogeochemist and professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I first met Brian two years ago when I was taking a Stable Isotope Ecology short course (affectionately known as Iso-Camp) at the University of Utah.  Brian was one of the course instructors and we quickly found our mutual interest in pelagic ecology and started discussing ways to collaboratively analyze my off-shore olive ridley skin samples.  It’s pretty awesome that two years later I’m here working in Brian’s lab to do just that, with the help of the ITCE Graduate Student Exchange Program, and of course my SciFund supporters!  Brain has been a wonderful mentor and I look forward to continuing to work together.

I could not have done a thing without these two lovely ladies, Cassie (left) and Natalie (right).

I could not have done a thing without these two lovely ladies, Cassie (left) and Natalie (right).

When it comes down to it, the lab would not thrive without Natalie Wallsgrove (manager) and Cassie Lyons (technician).  I often call them engineers because much of their time is spent tending to finicky instruments, trouble-shooting and problem-solving.  (And occasionally saving unlucky geckos stuck to nitrogen tanks…)  They have been extremely helpful and patient with me, and its been really fun to work closely with them for 6 weeks!

This is me, injecting amino acids into the mass spectrometer "Lady Gaga" for analysis. She and I get along great.

This is me, injecting amino acids into the mass spectrometer “Lady Gaga” for analysis. She and I get along great.

In my next blog post, I will discuss the magical mass spectrometers and my data (which I now have!), as I’ve been promising.  I have been a bit slow with blogging over the past few weeks because I have been very busy obtaining said data, which has included many long days (and nights) at the lab.  I will whip up something informative as soon as I’m done doing this:

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