Sunday, March 25, 2012

untitled post but there are pictures!

Nearly four years ago, my friends Emily (center) and Nikki (right) and I would meet on the green and have takeout lunches from the Bistro. I would always get a grilled cheese with fries (which I'd eat with a combination of ketchup and mayo) and a Dr. Pepper. After admittedly an up and down freshman year at Clark, the warm spring weather was met with open arms and made us all feel whole again after a long, cold winter. While this past winter was not nearly as cold, last week's warm weather was still appreciated. While we didn't have lunch on the green in the picture above, it still reminded me very much of those times four years ago, which I think of very fondly.

A summery kind of picture taken in March. The sight of green grass and budding flowers is a sight for sore eyes!
A sort of random place for me to take a picture, but this isn't the first time I've taken a shot of the sunset from this spot. Going back up the hill from Shrewsbury to Worcester, this shot usually is quite pretty by the time I've finished my weekly Friday grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.
From the bridge going back into Worcester from Shrewsbury. Crew clubs often practice on this river which is pretty cool to see.
Fig. 1 - I am such a nerd.
This is what my desk has looked like as of late. Papers, notebooks, and lab manuals everywhere. I can't get away from it! Gahhhhh!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A sneak peak of spring

Below are a few photos I've taken this week from our early (but beautiful) spring weather. It's warming up and the student population has responded really well. Take a look!
L to R: The Jonas Clark building, Bullock Hall, and the Goddard Library.

The green with the JC on the left and Atwood, Jefferson, and the Geography Building
on the right, in that order.

A different view of the green, with the UC in the distance on the far left, the JC
in the middle left, the library set back in the middle right, and Atwood on the far right.
This picture should be viewed at full zoom!

A view of Main St. from behind where Freud likes to hang out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Taking 1-step intsead of two.

As of late, there have only been a few things on my mind: the glorious weather, Physiological Ecology of Marine Algae, and 1-step Quantitative PCR.

Spring break ended with spring hitting Worcester with extreme velocity. All of the snow that fell before break has been replaced with highs well into the 60s. There are rumors of temperatures hitting the 70s or 80s next week.

Why yes, I'd love some sunshine while I read.

Aside from the end of this week, with temperatures dropping today and rain expected tomorrow, we've been blessed with sunshine and more warm weather. On Monday I got to spend some time outside while doing some reading during class. While we were given more time than needed to do the reading, I certainly will not complain about the amount of sunrays I was able to soak up while hanging outside. I've beginning to worry about the amount of work I have to do between helping to run two projects in PEMA and finishing up my own research, in addition to preparing presentations, writing my thesis, and giving a defense... all while the weather is getting really nice.

I could try shifting my sleep cycle so that I work a lot at night, sleep in, and enjoy the weather during the afternoon before going back into lab. I highly doubt this is something I'll try. Instead, I'll probably start packing killer lunches and having them on the green in the sunshine.

I have so much to do but I'm still waiting for cultures to grow up and things to be mailed in to retry some of my real-time experiments. I tried running some 1-step QPCR reactions recently since we had the kit on hand. 1-step QPCR makes the cDNA and amplifies it all in one reaction, rather than making the cDNA separately and adding it to the QPCR reaction. While this is definitely easier, saves time, and limits contamination, 1-step QPCR is not as accurate when it comes to estimating the amount of starting template in a sample. As determining the amount of relative template among samples of different test conditions is of the utmost importance to me, it looks like 1-step QPCR won't really fit into my plans any more. However, some initial results suggested my experimental lines of diatoms are behaving as expected (and see previously with normal QPCR), so that's really promising. Once I get a new QPCR kit in and some cells to analyze, my work should be all downhill from here (aside from heaps of lab work).

Watch the video below for a bit more on our beautiful weather and 1-step QPCR.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oh hai Spring

We've been seeing weather
like this in Worcester for
the past two weeks.
We're starting to see spring weather and it's such a nice feeling. Granted since our first snowstorm, it's been a really mild winter for the most part. Nonetheless, we've been enjoying some warm temperatures over the past few weeks.

Right now it's 44°F with a forecast of highs in the 60's all week. Aside from one day of rain, it looks like sunshine all week.

Clark has a tradition of getting serious snow just before spring break--the first week of March--only for the snow to melt by the time the students return. We got 4 or 5 inches of snow in the days leading up to spring break. Below you can see what campus looked like after some of the snow started to melt.

March 5th.
With some rain and warmer weather, the snow has since left campus.
March 7th. Within a day the rest of the snow had melted.
For the most part, Spring Semester at Clark can hardly compare to Fall Semester in terms of good weather. If we're lucky, Clark can usually have great weather from the start of the semester until mid October or later. In the Spring, we're lucky to have a good April.  This is one of the reasons why I decided to go abroad my junior spring rather than in the fall. By going to Australia, I traded a northern hemisphere winter for a southern hemisphere summer. Not a bad trade in my book.

I'm glad tradition has continued this year. While Worcester could certainly get another big snowstorm before the end of April, I really hope spring has decided to come and stay early. Unfortunately, we've had a pretty dry winter which means we will be in a drought once the trees try to break their winter fast. I guess this means if we have a rainy spring I can't complain, since we need the rain.