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Seeds, Seeds, Seeds

This week found me at a Worker’s Protection training for work with chemicals and an orientation about CCE, but it also found me digging up swallow-wort and screening seeds in the lab. After spending two weeks in the Weed Ecology lab, I have developed two ‘snap’-hypotheses (a little like snap-judgments) about research.

1) Research projects are repetitive and often tiring. That’s all there is to it. I will never look at a research paper the same–I know now that behind every research paper, there were likely students like myself or lab assistants that had to do some re2014-06-06 14.51.46petitive task over and over again, for a long time, to make it possible. If there were a word that put all of my work during the past week into perspective, that word would be ‘seeds’. The seed packets taken out of the ground for this year from the buried seed experiment were dried and we spent a lot of time screening the tiny, tiny seeds from sand. If you want to know what that’s like, imagine this: you have a bowl of tan sand with a quarter teaspoon of black sand mixed in. That’s what it’s like. You’re screening black, sand-sized seeds from sand–they’re only 0.6 millimeters in diameter. That being said, even though a project like this is tiring, obviously the excitement of the outcome of such a project still keeps people interested. The effort is well worth it.

2) Research requires a certain level of humor. One of the students in our lab has a project with plants that had to be all replanted because of timing. The weather wasn’t favorable for too long and her plants got too big, so we spent some time this week transplanting her second round of seedlings. Timing, weather, or other factors can ruin project plans in an instant and change the parameters or possibility of a project. Outcomes of a project can take an unexpected turn, but a person has to be flexible and willing to ‘roll with the punches’, if you will, with a positive attitude and unfailing optimism. Keeping a smile on your face keeps everyone a lot more motivated and focused.2014-06-06 14.50.49

And to keep you optimistic, check out this little guy I found while weeding in the field yesterday. He’s grumpy–this is what not to do.


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