Hi, my name is Gunvor and am on my first year in a master in environmental toxicology. I was considering taking the BIO299 course in the last year of my bachelor degree, but didn’t. I finally decided to take the course the first semester of my master degree, after hearing a lot good about it, and am so happy that I did.
In this course, I have been a part of the Three D project, that is a smaller project of Between the fjords, that looks at how three global change drivers, warming, nitrogen and grazing, together effect root traits and productivity. Together with my supervisor I got to choose part of the project and the different tasks for the semester. The tasks were measuring length of samples, washing them, weighing them before and after washing and scanning to collect traits.
Most of my working hours went to sitting on the lab and washing root and listening to a podcast. It was surprising how fast the time flew bye, and how few samples I managed to do in a day, taking over 1 hour per sample. What I really liked about this was the freedom of coming and going to the lab when I had time, since I worked alone, but at the same time I needed to plan my work. That’s because I took the samples out of the freezer 1-2 hours before a day at the lab, and had to do all those samples that day. The washing procedure would look something like the picture under:
The next part of the process was to scan the washed roots. This also took more time than I thought (20 min instead of expected 5 min per sample) since I needed to spread the roots out, and try to avoid too much overlap. The scanner was completely new, and I felt so lucky to get to use it. It was also really cool to see how the scanned photos of the roots looked like (The picture underneath), and how the scanner managed to measure the traits (length, diameter etc.).
During the project, I did some changes. Almost half way through the semester I decided, with my supervisor, to only do only half of the samples planed. But when I was done with most of the lab I couldn’t find several samples in the freezer, and then had to add some samples again two get enough data.
This course has shown me both how fun and frustrating a research project can be, with its small problems and surprises. It has been fun to be a part of a bigger research, and I really recommend taking this course if you have the opportunity.