Lawrence University Science Institute

The day of the Lawrence University Science Institute carried eventful show casing of our summer research. With bright eyed prospective students and a lot of work to be done, there was not a boring moment. Nicki, Deanna, and I met up with our prospective students interested in Chemistry at Lawrence. We hit the road to Adam’s farm around 9am, where ARTEMIS was collecting data. In the car, we talked about our research and the college searching experience with our morning student. Remembering how stressful it could, be was a real throwback in nostalgia for Nicki and me. We shared our experiences and journey of coming to Lawrence until we reached the site.

We started collecting data, while Deanna was explaining more of the projects and reasons behind collecting Ozone, NOx, Particulate Matter, and Weather data. (Sadly, I still cannot reach the Kestrel even with the new and taller ladder.) This involved concerns surrounding Frac Sand Mining and how ozone acts in the Stratosphere and Troposphere.

Later we taught our prospective student how to reconnect the tubing running from the Monitors and Calibration sources using wrenches. However, the day did not go on without a few bumps in the road as our NOx Monitor data transmission got interrupted and we had to wait another 30minutes for the data to resubmit to our laptops.

Getting back on campus led to another fun talk in the Chemistry department with all our prospective students over lunch. We introduced ourselves and shared exciting disaster stories regarding our equipment exploding, flying away, and fruits of our work being lost.

After refueling for the other half of the day, Nicki and I met up with our next two prospective students to go back out to the field at Adam’s Farm. Our second round of calibrating and gathering data was filled with sharing experiences at Lawrence and knowledge about ARTEMIS. We encountered a good period of waiting time while the calibration sources warmed up. During this time, we talked more about the possibilities in classes at Lawrence and gained a few grass braids I proudly donned for the rest of the day. The long wait time for calibrations took its toll as we only just made it back to campus on time by 4:30.

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New Installment!

This past week held some major successes for us. We spent last Tuesday and Wednesday planning and constructing our particle sampling tower. It was really fun, I used a ton of tools that I’ve never used before in my life! (Learning life skills on the side). We were pretty worried about the actual installment of the tower though – we were just not confident that it would stay up, since the TSI box is about 50 lbs.

However, most of our worries were mitigated once we actually arrived on site on Thursday. We had planned to spend the entire day there, since we weren’t sure what kinds of obstacles would arise. But much to our luck, not many did! The stake went in the ground and we leveled it out without much of a fight. Daniel Martin, Lawrence’s stockroom supervisor, graciously came out to the site for a few hours to help us carry the tower and new, (heavy!) super tall ladder out 3/4 of a mile to ARTEMIS’s location. The tower went onto the stake quite easily, and we got 5 out of 6 bolts in to secure it.

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I would say that the biggest challenge we faced that day was putting the tower anchors into the ground. The first one went into the ground easily! But the next two put up fights. Deanna wound up actually mallet-ing an old crowbar into the ground, since after 3 attempts with this one anchor it just refused to cooperate. We also wound up using some cinder blocks as a make-shift anchor to another line. Our security cables installed fine. We eventually moved ARTEMIS closer to the tower, because we had to connect the TSI to the power source, and the wires weren’t extremely long.

All in all it was a long and hard day, but everything wound up much easier than we were expecting. We ended the day with lemonade slushies as a personal reward!

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The newest installment of ARTEMIS!

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Independence

We had a couple of big successes this past week! First, Deanna wrote out a checklist of tasks for Fry and I to complete at the field. The test: to do it all on our own. And despite it taking about 3 hours, we did! A couple of hiccups here and there but we tended to ARTEMIS mostly on our own.  Second, we saw our first NOx peak in the data. We are actually seeing stuff!

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Third, a solution to how to compile all of our data came much faster than expected. Deanna coded her own way of compiling everything together using RStudios, so now we are one step closer in figuring out how we want to analyze all of the data we are collecting.

In other news, keep your eyes peeled for a branding logo for ARTEMIS. It may be coming soon!

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The above image shows one of our many insect friends found at the farm.

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Digging In

Gathering Ozone, NOx, and Kestrel data has become more efficient with Deanna’s checklist for ARTEMIS operations. We finished in a record time of 3 hours and with more independence than before! Luckily we only encountered Sunny and partially cloudy weather for our data gathering so far.

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Data organizing has gone more smoothly within the two days of gathering. We are still working on finding an optimal way to display all the data sets that we have relating to weather, Ozone levels, and NOx amounts. This will be a continuous process as we put our focus towards R.

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For our background research on general principles of Atmospheric Chemistry, we’re diving into feedback loops, sinks, and other mechanisms concerning CH4, NOx, HOx, CO, and Ozone.

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My first three days: Already in the field twice!

I arrived for my first day this past Wednesday and spent it getting familiar with the main instruments of ARTEMIS: the NOx and O3 monitors and their calibration units. Much of my day was spent learning how to operate them, calibrate them, and download the calibration data to make sure the trends in the short and long line data matched. Despite some initial frustrations of the NOx not logging and me accidentally deleting some data, they did! A day well spent, as ARTEMIS was planned to begin her summer journey the following day.

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The following morning was spent preparing and packing the trailer and van. It took a couple hours – we needed to make sure we had everything to properly set ARTEMIS up for the next 5 months. Upon arriving to Adams Farm we met Helen and Ed, who were such gracious hosts and people (and offered us homemade banana ice cream at the end of the day!). Meeting them really ignited this project’s importance for me. I listened to their very valid concerns about this nearby mining site (where apparently besides the whole fracking aspect, they dug so close to their property line that it threatened erosion on their plots, AND the pit was being used as a monster truck arena – imagine all that diesel in the air along with the dust plumes), and needless to say, I became personally attached to helping these people to my best ability.

ARTEMIS was tractor-ed out to her spot about a half mile into the field, and almost as soon as we began preparing the instruments – the O3 monitor chord accidentally touched the battery terminal, shorted, and broke the chord. First small disaster of the trip! It meant that we had to come into the field the next day to fix it (even though looking back, we could have probably fixed it then). We set up the tower, kestrel, and NOx machine, and let it run overnight before coming back the next day.

That next day we basically collected what data we had, crimped the O3 wire back to normal, and re-set everything up. It was a lot to take in my first couple of days, but I am now very excited to see what kind of data we get, and to go back to the farm to keep tending to ARTEMIS.

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Getting Our Feet on Site

This week Nicki has arrived for research and at a great time too! All the work on calibrations and getting familiar with the Ozone monitor and NOx monitor paid off for letting me feel prepared to use them on site.

This Thursday was our first day at the Adams Farm. Our van and ARTEMIS were packed up and ready to go! We checked off everything on our checklist with extra equipment to bring just in case. Helen and Ed were fantastic hosts and people for letting us conduct research on their property.19686491_10209629693040933_1588048326_o

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Slow Starts Are Okay

Hi everyone, this is the first blog post I’m sharing. Last week has been full of getting the hang of calibrating the Ozone Monitor, TSI OPS, and NOx Box. The excel templates used to organize each data set was tricky for me at first, but I at least can say I feel more comfortable with Ozone Calibration data. Deanna and I retrieved ARTEMIS from the Alexander Gym with cool little spider friends tagging along with us. I can’t wait to get started taking field data at the Adams farm around Frac Sand Mining, but I should probably get the hang of the other templates before all of that.

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