Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week #14 Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

I cannot believe this will be my last blog at Phoenix College. I would like to thank everyone for a great four semesters; although it's taken me seven to get the associate's. I don’t know. You do the math. If you think that is bad, you should see my credit hours.

I would like to give special thanks to Amanda Chapman, D., Josh, Matt, Kimberly, Anna, and the lab ghost and secret stalker who always stole my lab books and Mueller Hinton plates. I am grateful you guys tolerated me for such a long stint. I am also glad I could mix things up a bit and make the lab an exciting, unpredictable, and at times, an unstable environment. Most of all, I am glad you let me inside your magnificent, powerful, and unique brains. I extracted everything I could.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. To all of you Restemmers: stay focused, challenged, and emerge from this experience transformed.  I know I have. To those of you with whom I have shared a covalent bond, I am sure our sidewalk chats, office visits, wasted grains, and tacos, will carry us through the times to come. Once again, best of luck, stay in touch, and if any of you were to have any further questions, concerns, commentary, or suggestions, please feel free to contact Amanda Goodson!


The Perfect Storm


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Week #13 Penultimate Effort to Please Blog Gods

Do not be afraid of the timer. It is a mere representation of the time remaining before the conference @ Estrella; a time at which your pursuit of happiness shall come to an end. Actually, if you have looked at the schedule, out of 10 participants, 6 are from Phoenix College. Those are extremely good odds for taking home a few Euros. That should make you extremely happy. I am still in the final stages of both my paper and my poster. Matt and I have tagged team the effort of the KISS principle originally used in the 60's by the Navy. It is my only hope of not sounding like I am presenting my project in a foreign tongue. Good Luck! If you have any last minute questions, Amanda Goodson is always up for a challenge...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Week #12 If the Mirror Is My Reflection, Why Is The Person I See Not Me?

Did you know that a photograph is a mirror image of your mirror image? In other words, the person you see in the mirror, isn't the person others see? It's the person camera's capture, but not the 'good-looking' one that stares back at you from the depths of glass and silver. I just thought you needed to know that and it might be my back-up plan for my presentation if the judges ask me a question I don’t immediately know the answer to.

Speaking of which, my Rhizobium project was a success. The challenge will be to compile my data in such a way that illustrates the same. I remember when I worked in business and depending on the audience we could use the same numbers to manipulate various scenarios. This would be more unethical in science but I am sure the same applies.

I also discovered and have mentioned it in my discussions that I might have a problem presenting my material given that it’s a rather difficult topic; and I am having writer’s block trying to work my way out of it. In a nut-shell, I inoculated seeds with Rhizobium to see if it had any effects on the seeds’ germination and growth rate. The Rhizobium in this case would colonize itself on the surface of the root and the Rhizophere.

A similar practice has been used for centuries known as Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). PGPR is the application of any bacteria to the Rhizophere to achieve similar results. In the case of legumes, nodules are formed and the Rhizobium shares a symbiotic relationship with the plant. My difficulty will be explaining the difference between the application of PGPR and that of Rhizobium; although, technically my experiment would also be considered PGPR. Are you confused yet? Go look at yourself in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week #11 "Nine Times?" "Nine Times..." Movie Buffs and Go!

Nine Times? No, Nine assignments due tomorrow. Nine written assignments. That black hole I was speaking of last week is nipping at my backside whilst my cosmic dust is becoming once again part of the universe.

I know our rough drafts are due tomorrow as well. How frightening, don't you think? That date is always a little obscure until it suddenly appears and rears its ugly head. I will finish my measurements this week and complete my data tables and by next week, we should be working with something. 

Of course in the meantime I have to get the scratched up plastic container out of the cupboard which houses my scissors, glue, tape, two rubber bands, a dead cricket, eraser, and a bobby pin. Only true S-Stem scholars can use all of these supplies to meld their paper together. For tomorrow’s version, I will just have to use Band-Aids. 

I will save the pictures for next time but I think we might be on to something with this whole nitrogen fixating rhizobium/feed the world scheme we sought to complete at the beginning of my last semester at Phoenix College. Longest Degree Ever.

How many fragment sentences have I employed in the above rhetoric?

Okay, give up? Nine Times? Most of you weren't born. I was eating paste and still wetting the bed. Great movie out of Chi-Town!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week #10 My Pants Are Growing Like Wild Fire...

I meant PLANTS…

So, now that all of my late starts have begun to overlap, I am starting to feel the typical pressure a semester usually provides me. My experiment is going great. I will be collecting my final data on the 6th and 7th of April and start compiling my paper and begin working on my presentation. For once, I think I can say I am ahead of the game (my game, of course) and will finish things on time. At this current pace, I am currently 23 hours, 32 minutes, and 29 seconds ahead of the quickly approaching black hole that tends to devour my sanity and sometimes even my assignments (e.g. my rough draft last semester).

Other than that, I don't have much to tell you guys. My late starts are killing me with written assignments which are approaching about ten per week. I will take final measurements of my plants next week and if time permits, I will use a different type of Rhizobium on the same seeds to see if it yields different results. I wish you all the best as we wrap up these final weeks of the semester. Believe me, I have no idea where it went. 

The older I get, the faster the hourglass sifts through its sand. I see such irony in the advice that we are given as children to enjoy life as it seemed like such rubbish and impossible to achieve, and then realize as an adult that the precision and concision in which the original advice was offered was priceless.

Don't mind me... I feel a full moon coming our way within the next few days... 

...P.S. Our Rough drafts are due on the 9th. :)

Two Pictures: One treated with bacteria and one treated with my green thumb. The one on the bottom was planted a day later...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Week #9 Spring Broke

I am proud to admit that for the first time in my life, I did absolutely nothing, not even remotely related to academia over spring break; unless calculating calories in alcohol to determine my work out passes for mathematics. It was liberating. But somewhere during the hot mess I started wondering when school was going to start up again. Could this be a passion of mine <<tongue in cheek>>?

I write with good news. I have completed another two rounds of gardening or as Amanda G. calls it, "farming", and have the process down to about three hours. Once you see my protocol you will understand. I also posted a couple of videos below. 

The first shows me meticulously picking up seeds for my planters. For each plant, I used 60 seeds; 30 for the control, and 30 for the Rhizobium. It was starting to feel like neurosurgery or at least how I envision neurosurgery to be; my only reference is Grey's.  The second video illustrates what vermiculite looks like when water is added to it. If you pay really close attention, it almost looks like jumping larvae of sorts. It's a little creepy. Can anyone tell me what vermiculite is and why it is used? Class?

I hope we hear back from Estrella Mountain soon. We only have a few more weeks until we present our experiments. Good to see you guys in the lab. Cheers, J.

Positive thoughts to all of those recently affected in the airline tragedy. Is it just me, or is this becoming more commonplace?

Also, I witnessed a cat getting hit by a car tonight, had to finish what was right and almost couldn’t do it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Week #7 Short, Sweet, And With An Assist; Not The Week...ME OF COURSE...

Since I lost my first two rounds of plants due to the microenvironment present in the incubator, I have to pay frequent attention to my future plantings lest I repeat the same mess. Consequently, I won't be able to start another round until after Spring Break. This week, in the meantime, I decided to further revise my abstract, complete my blogs and discussion board, and reach out to see if any other S-Stemmers could use my help.

Luckily, I stumbled upon Amanda and Tony working on an Algae project gone wrong in 106. Tony gives me too much credit in his blog, but I appreciate the compliments and I really enjoyed working with him on his project. As far as Amanda and I are concerned, we function like hydrogen gas, or as two electrons would in a non polar covalent bond if that suits your fancy :)

After a quick debriefing from Tony and Amanda on their progress and where we were taking their ideas, I took a sample from the aquarium with the alleged bacterial growth and plated it. Through brainstorming, research, and consulting with Matt and Josh, the three of us started narrowing down potential causes of the untimely death of his algae and what we could expect from the plates. After 24 hours, however, there wasn't any growth on the plates.

Since Tony's trip took him so close to the ocean I suggested that we might be dealing with an anaerobe based on an assumption that he may have picked up a halophilic phototrophic bacteria.Keep in mind, this was a just an educated guess and random variable because we expected growth on the plates. Consequently, I then put the plates in a candle jar and by the next day, we had something very mysterious waiting for us in the lab. I am not in the lab today, but I am sure Amanda and Tony are continuing their quest in discovering what we are dealing with.

In closing, I just wanted to express how it wasn't anyone's single contribution that made this happen. On the contrary, it was a collaborative effort which would not have worked otherwise. Tony's devastation transformed into delight as we tackled the problem together. I felt like I was in an electron cloud and the energy the three of us created by constantly bouncing off one another made my time in the lab this week well worth it. In a way, I guess you could say, we were the PERFECT STORM (Actually, that's  my nickname) Science at its best! Thanks guys!

Of course, like always, we sang Happy Birthday!

Amanda said "Give me your best Vanna White!" Ahem, Why Vanna?

This is what we found after 24 hours in the candle jar. Can you see the spikes? Run!