More defending your thesis

I defended my thesis on May 16th, presenting the results of my research on the hygroscopic motion of big bluestem and indian grass. I’ve attached the presentation to this post, though the presentation is a bit light on text. I’m putting together a section on my website with more text, which I’ll link when it’s ready.


Fixing the Mettler Balance

Yesterday, the Mettler Toledo BALNT software was throwing up an error when it was started, preventing weighing.

Exact error message: BALNT.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program. An error log is being created.

This seems to be an error with the config file in the C:Windows or C:WINNT directory. To fix this, take the zip file in and extract it to the C: drive. This should overwrite the Balance-May2012 directory on the C: drive. Take the BALNT.ini file from that directory and copy it to C:Windows or C:WINNT, whichever exists. You should be able to start the balance software and begin collecting points.

MEEC poster, awn edition


Click to embiggen the poster. This isn’t the full poster, but I’m not uploading a 30MB PDF. The videos can be read with a smartphone and a QR reader, or flip through my posts, as all the videos are on the flog somewhere.

Indian grass and big bluestem movement

Look at them go! For the first few seconds of the video, anway,

Heads in CG1

Now that we’ve inventoried all the CG1 heads, I checked to see just how many we have. There were about 3009 twist-ties put out, and 119 heads were duds or missing, so our (estimated) total number of good heads is about 2890.

CG2 had something like 140 heads, but we haven’t inventoried those yet.


Last week (well, 9 days ago), we headed north to the Crookston area to survey the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara).
View image
Gretel is showing everyone what to look for on the plant here.

View image
Katherine looks over the prairie

View image
An ant dangles on a thread of spider silk, threatened by the dangerous milkweed

View image
Here’s what we were actually looking for; the WPFO itself. We found over 1000 plants, way more than last year. All in all, a good day.

New Website

The new website proposal can be found on a google doc page.

Photo excursion

We went out to Hegg Lake for a plant-seeing adventure on Wednesday. Click the pictures to embiggen.

First of is some Onosmodium, a marbleseed.

A garter snake. Stuart knew the latin name but my memory isn’t that good.

Thistles can be pretty!

Penstemon grandiflorus, what are you doing here? You’re not native to this area!

Spiderwort, a Tradescantia. A nice find.

Dichanthelium is in flower! There’s quite a bit of it this year.

Polygala senega was on top of a hill.

Death camas (Zigadenus). Watch out.

Sisyrinchium. These are blue, unlike the white ones I’ve seen at Staffanson

Deer flies. These suckers hurt when they bite.

Stipa is in flower! You can see the parts pretty clearly here.

Interestingly, the diaspore is pretty much fully formed by the time pollination is happening. This makes sense, as it’s all maternal tissues apart from the seed itself. You can see it on Greg’s hand.

Week in review

Hey, it’s Josh again (I’m back! I’ll have a reintroduction post soon). We’ve had quite the productive week while Stuart was back in Chicagoland. With the help of awesome folks like Nicholas, Amber, and Callin, my garden is all dug up, weeded, planted, and watered. Now we wait (and water).

We also took care of the seedling searches at EELR, NWLf, and NNWLf, not to mention extending the lines of the Staffanson common garden to 100m and marking them.

Hey look, some planting!

Stipa and the common garden

I’ve been working with the Stipa germination data we collected from the common garden over the summer for Stuart’s R class and, among other things, have come up with a little plot of the common garden. Filled-in blue circles are where we found Stipa alive, empty circles had no seedlings. A neat thing would be some kind of heat map for longest leaf or number of leaves, but I’ll try that later.

View image