Externship Day 8: Project Focus and the Introduction of Randomization!

We’re now past the midpoint of our externship! This week we are focusing more on gathering the data for our own projects, so yesterday Alex and Mia gave us a list of Echinacea purpurea samples that would be helpful to use in my project. Cassie, Wanying, and I separated these samples and moved them through the entire process we had learned so far, including cleaning, rechecking, random letter-number label assigning, reordering, and scanning. Thanks to this work, we only had a few scans to do today and redid the scans that did not have any achenes so that they now include a note to any potential counters.

Here I am adding notes to the achene-less scans, which are done on the right and entered into the computer program

Then we started thinking about Liatris aspera, which is used in Cassie and Wanying’s projects, and how to randomize each plant’s achenes in order to get smaller samples that can be realistically checked for seed predation and x-rayed. We learned the Echinacea randomization protocol today, but there is no protocol for Liatris, so we brainstormed one together based on the challenges of Liatris and our goals. We started to draft this protocol into a document listing our objectives, materials, troubleshooting tips, and methods. Then we cleaned Liatris until the end of the day, and I made endless more grub friends.

Wanying and Cassie cleaning Liatris heads
A grub just chilling and pretending it didn’t eat through the achenes I needed

I’m excited for tomorrow, which is when we’ll hopefully be able to start randomizing and maybe even putting our protocol to the test!


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