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Over the Hill (We Can’t Slow Down)

Whew! This week has been BUSY–and it’s only Wednesday! Here’s a run-down of our milestones:

Monday: FINISHED CLEANING SEED HEADS. For good. For ever. Cleaning is definitely the most time consuming step of our process, and having it over with is a dream. We also learned how to x-ray our seeds, and my feelings on it are pretty confused. On the one hand, radiation is scary; on the other, using x-rays for botany is pretty darn cool. On the third hand, there is a lot of waiting involved in the process. All in all, definitely glad I learned how to do it.

Tuesday: We finished scanning on Tuesday morning (all 110 scans!) so we’re feeling pretty good going into the rest of the week. In the afternoon we got a start on randomizing and met with a PhD student here, Jessa. She was really cool–we talked about grad school, biology and our names, which are all fun and interesting things to talk about (note that neither Emma nor I have gotten started on thinking about grad school yet–it’s only fun to talk about for now).

Wednesday: We finished randomizing! And then we finished assembling! And then we finished x-raying!! Then we did some data entry…and then we finished counting! Because we already processed 2/3 of our samples last week, this final pull has been a breeze. (Which Scott and Amy are blown away by. Apparently we’re pretty quick!)

My head is whirling a bit from everything we’ve accomplished this week, but we still have a lot to do. Our next steps will be:

  1. Finish classifying the x-rayed seeds (we got a start on this today and I love it; it could make a pretty good video game)
  2. Compile our data for analysis
  3. Analysis!

We’ve decided to focus our analysis on the uninformatives. Are smaller seed heads more likely to have tiny uninformatives? Are seed heads from dense populations more likely than isolated heads to have larval holes in their achenes? These and many questions are waiting to be answered…I’d better get back on that!

 

Mikaela

These yellow coin envelopes contain the products of cleaning: achenes sorted into top, middle, and bottom for each seed head.

These yellow coin envelopes contain the products of cleaning: achenes sorted into top, middle, and bottom for each seed head. The pink and blue cards at the front of each box show our progress.

These white coin envelopes contain the products of randomization: the uninformative achenes from each yellow envelope. The informative achenes are in the clear baggies in the next image!

These white coin envelopes contain the products of randomization: the uninformative achenes from each yellow envelope. The informative achenes are in the clear baggies in the next image!

Sheets prepared for x-ray. Each of the little baggies contains informative achenes from either the top, middle or bottom of a seed head.

Sheets prepared for x-ray. Each of the little baggies contains informative achenes from either the top, middle or bottom of a seed head.

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