Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Advisory: Professor Whendee Silver
Reflections: SPUR funding was helpful in a number of ways. The funding allowed me to purchase all of the materials necessary and gave me confidence in my interactions with graduates, graduate students, and post-docs and my faculty mentor. I gained a better understanding of what it is to be a graduate student. This in itself has been valuable in shaping my decisions about the future. Through my project I have learned an incredible amount from all of the wonderful resources in the Silver lab.
"...a scientist must be prepared for all contingencies, and be ready to be flexible and make changes on-the-fly for any unexpected problems."
My work revealed that leaf litter leachate (litter steeped in water) are not only a source of complex carbon and nitrogen, but of enzymes as well! A number of published papers in the field of biogeochemistry have been completed based on the assumption that leachate is merely a carbon and nutrient source. At 14 hours into a 17-hour lab day, I discovered that this assumption was incorrect and a quick change of procedures was required. The most valuable lesson I learned was that a scientist must be prepared for all contingencies, and be ready to be flexible and make changes on-the-fly for any unexpected problems. The preparation skills that I have learned during the course of my project allowed me to make the changes that I needed to continue the experiment in a modified but still-valuable form.
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