Bronze fennel. This morning, while roaming the gardening and procrastinating the day - enjoying the cooler temperatures before the sun came too close - I noticed (finally) that the 5th instar of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) had finally shown up to devour the bronze fennel. I want to remember to watch for where they pupate this year - I forget to do that each year, and most likely I will forget this year too.
Sometimes my garden has the feel of a $5.99 all-you-can-eat pasta buffet.
Selective isolations. This afternoon I met for several hours with a colleague - to discuss a manuscript that I've been asked to take the lead on. The data was not collected by my group, and I wasn't even involved in this project when the objectives of the research were established. This is not something that I would normally do. But the data is something I want to get very familiar with, and my laboratory is hoping to secure funding to extend these first studies into something...more. However, right now I am struggling with my own microbial biases: as someone that likes to have the story reflected in the DNA, to write a manuscript where the data was obtained by growing up microbial inoculum (in this case, the upper respiratory tract fluid of bottlenose dolphins) and placing them on selective media (media designed to isolate human pathogens in a clinical setting) - and based on growth alone assigning a Genus and species designation to the isolate...well, in my world, I'm just not comfortable with this approach. But today in my discussion with my colleague, I was reminded of something very important - that in most settings with dolphins, molecular biologists aren't hanging around waiting to sequence the hell out of dolphin snot (my interpretation of her kinder words). Point made. With my attitude re-adjusted, it's now time to find a way to reduce this large dataset (diseased vs healthy, age, male vs female, year, location, etc) in order to look at the microorganisms isolated (and characterized) using these clinical approaches and see what I can find out.
But I will add that the lab will spend the $$ to get one 16S library sequenced for at least one dolphin sample - even in the absence of new funding. I'm curious. Really curious.
Presentations. The laboratory has four poster presentations on Friday, for our program's annual research open house. Tomorrow will be crazy, since I'll need to take a look at all of them. Two of them are filling up my INBOX already, and perhaps in an hour or so I'll take a quick look at them - before looking at them more closely tomorrow. The most fun part about these presentations is that three of the four have as a co-author one of the undergraduates in the lab. This is their first co-authorship and they smile when we talk about it. They deserve it, and they deserve more - hopefully these posters are the skeletal beginnings of manuscripts that will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Then they will really smile. Last night the lab's postdoctoral fellow emailed me and wrote 'It is 9:30 pm and I'm in the lab and all three undergraduates are here and they are all WORKING.' That made me smile.
Today I was lingering in the lab, catching up with the undergrads - and we briefly touched on scientific ethics, an important topic that I should talk more with them about. They are young, and it is important that they understand these things - it will shape their scientific lives. Tomorrow I will try and remember to do this.
Odd transitions. Thursday morning my friend Pete is going to help me bring the Airstream back to my place. Slowly I've been packing up the accessories of my life, so they can be placed in storage while the necessities and I move into a 27.5 foot aluminum trailer.
My life is in transition, an odd transition. I wonder what instar I'm in.