It's been a while since I posted so prepare yourselves for a longer than usual blog! I was going to separate some of these topics into separate entries but honestly I can't be bothered so you'll just have to read (or skim) the whole update!
First to Students (and no they aren't related to stress!) - I've had the great pleasure of having Jordan in my lab for a DTP rotation for the last 7 weeks. She has been learning about maize growth and the soil-plant-air continuum. Some of the techniques she has learnt include 15N uptake (which is what we are doing in the images below), shoot and root biomass measurements, CT imaging of roots, leaf pigment stuff (which is sort of my loose connection to stress!) and microdialysis sampling of soil nutrients. The last 7 weeks have been a lot of fun and I'm sure whatever project Jordan chooses she will go on to great things!
Now to Stress - not mine - and actually not really stress but rather plant pigments which can indicate stress! Those of you following me on Twitter will see that I recently obtained a Dualex meter. This measures chlorophyll, polyphenols (flavonoids) and a ratio between the two (for more detail see Force-A page: http://www.force-a.com/en/capteurs-scientifiques/dualex-scientific/
and download the brochure).
The reason I am so blatantly advertising the for Force-A is because of the support they showed me during the nightmare of having the device delivered. Firstly - to order a piece of equipment like this is a serious decision when there is a limited budget so I put a lot of thought into weighing up my options. Having decided to order one Force-A were fantastic with getting it packaged up and sent. However a certain delivery company who can remain unnamed (but whose initials are U. .P...S) seem to have lost the delivery but refuse to accept their error (details can remain out of this due to further investigations - however it seems I'm not the only person to have problems with this company!). The device should have arrived the first week of November 2016 but has still not been located. Force-A are not at fault so have no obligation to do anything further, however despite this they stepped up and provided a replacement device (via a different delivery company) and the device arrived 2 working days later! It has been rare for me to experience such charity and support and I truly appreciate it - in particular as a new academic with a tight budget.
Since the Dualex arrived we (I mean Jordan!) has had a play and measured a bunch of random plants around the place....data below....definition of the ratios are given in the picture above. In future the dualex will allow us to do continuous measurements of leaf status. At the end of experiments we'll make a final measurement, harvest that tissue and use colorimetric methods to measure whole tissue pigment concentrations. Fun times to come!
So thanks again Force-A :)
That brings me to stuff!
I watched this fabulous TED talk (link below) recently on mentoring and how to get the most out of your team. I personally have had more bad than good experiences with supervisors and I'm always on the lookout for good advice. This one however hit home hard regarding the chicken-run of academia and the encouragement of superchickens rather than ensuring all the rest of us chickens are happy, healthy and as a collective more productive. It's a fantastic talk (like most TED talks) and I think if this way of thinking and behaving could be incorporated more into institutions it will not only improve overall productivity but also make a community of much happier chickens!
Finally - AR-Lab is moving....Again! This time by choice - just across the Sutton Bonington Campus to Gateway building. It's been two days (and most of today I was teaching) but already I feel very welcome among my colleagues and have been able to pop in and ask questions or have a chat with people as I've bumped into them when previously I would have had to walk across campus to see if they were in! So thanks to you all for making me welcome! My email contacts stay the same, phone number will change (see my contacts page).
If you've read all the way to the end then I thank you for thinking this was more interesting than spending your time on something else! :)