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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Another year of great student projects

This is the time of the year where we wrap up student projects and being new projects. This year I had four students graduate finishing up their Senior Experience projects.

David Jumes ’17 – Senior Experience: Toxins in our backyard: PCB analysis using GC-MS 

Melissa Rooney ’17 – Senior Experience: Diving into the Barrel: Tracking pH and titratable acidity in mixed fermentations

Lauren Welton-Arndt ’17 – Senior Experience: An Analytical Study of Caffeine Supplements

Sarah Zaccarine ’17 – Senior Experience: CO2 Uptake Capacity of Porous Carbonaceous Biomass Material

While I am sad to see these student move on to their next adventure I am excited to welcome two new students into my lab Small Fry Intia and Nicolette Puskar. We are going to have a great summer working with ARTEMIS out at Adams Farm.

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Looking forward to the Fall

It’s been about two weeks since I had my last day of summer work. The last few days before I left we had put everything back into ARTEMIS and checked to see if the power system worked. To my delight, and I’m sure Deanna’s as well, everything worked as expected. Besides a few slight adjustments to wires and labeling, it felt like a big accomplishment for the first time all summer. We repackaged the instruments in new foam layers.

It became almost immediately that some of the wires connected will eventually fall out, most likely in the field, which is a pain but manageable. The last two days a power test was being run, and the solar panel was working. We were unsure if it was the panel, which would have been a whole bunch worse, or if it was the solar controller. It appears to have been the solar controller, which makes everything easier (and cheaper). Everything seems to be working out to be able to head out and actually start a long term campaign.

I am excited to start the actual field campaign, but this summer was helpful and formative. I got experience in a lot of areas that I did not expect to. It was nice to see everyone progress in their own work this summer across disciplines. I am looking forward to running into problems in the field. I don’t think that optimism will carry through the fall, but I am looking forward to collecting data.

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Goodbye for now

So far not much has changed since my last blog post. We still have no idea what is wrong with the HPLC. So I started over and dried the caffeine standard. Hopefully next week these caffeine standards will work. One thing I have learned this summer is that I need to narrow my question. At first I had this grand vision of just putting a compound into a instrument and getting results right away. I eventually decided to do just one compound. The compound I choose to measure was caffeine. I will continue to do this research during the school and use the results for my senior experience. Since this is my last post for the summer I may right again during the school year. So goodbye for now.

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I love what I do !

It’s been a whole year since I posted and a bunch of things have changed. For one I graduated from Lawrence University and will be attending graduate school in couple of weeks so I’m really excited about that. Lil APOLLO (Air Pollutant Observation and Logging on Land by an Open  source system) which is the name of the air pollutant monitor that I was working on. It underwent some  major reconstruction as we had a couple of issues with it. However, I’m proud to say Lil APOLLO worked and the team that went on campaign was able to collect real time data. I attended up to about 3 symposiums presenting the data and I got some really great feedback.

So you are probably wondering what that title is about, well, I was missing working as a scientist during the summer and I wished I was back at Lawrence University tinkering away or figuring out how to fix some problem. I was back at home in Jamaica and because I was unable to get a chemistry related job my Mom had decided to grant me the opportunity to work at a bank. OMG. Let’s just say the financial world is not something I particularly enjoy. However, I think I’m learning how to be receptive to all types of personalities and to better able to assist persons when they are learning something new. One of my jobs was to assist customers at the ATM/ABM by teaching them how to use it. It’s always great to hear that they would like me to evaluate how they do next time. 

I’m currently at my new graduate school and I’m excited for the future. I’m assisting my professor to design and create an instrument that can be used in surface chemistry applications. Which is so up my alley in the kind of chemistry I like to do! I’ll also be a Teaching Assistant for the first year chemistry labs which might be a little nerve wracking as I’ll be the only authoritative figure in the room.yikes. It’s been an awesome experience and I wish the current Donohoue research lab assistants all the best.

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