Perfect Paragraphs: This project was most useful for me in reading the comments other students wrote on my posts. I realized some aspects of my writing style could improve, and tried to use the feedback to improve my writing style. When the project started I found it difficult to differentiate between my drafts and my perfect paragraphs. As the semester went on, I learned how to edit and refine my draft posts to make them into better paragraphs. This is a skill that I will use in all of my future writing projects, and would not have had learned if it was not for this aspect of the class. I found at times it was difficult to comment on other students posts because I simply could not find anything wrong with their writing. I learned to look deeper into their writing and point out things that would have otherwise went unnoticed if I had not been paying close attention.
Proposal: This project showed me how important it is to present your idea for a research project in a clear, concise, and appealing manner. When we started this project, I was not that excited about the topic my group had chosen but I gradually warmed up to it when we started putting our proposal together. I realized that even though the topic was not super interesting or novel, it could still be presented in a way that could gain some interest from other students in the class. I thought that writing a proposal would be similar to writing a scientific paper, but it was much much different. It was difficult writing the proposal without knowing if the results that we would collect would be significant enough to make doing the experiment worth it. From this project I learned that even if you do not know what the outcome of your experiment will be, it is still important to be confident in your proposal and provide a concise summary of what you know, and what you hope to find.
The results from this experiment were not fully in accordance with my expected results. The tubes containing glucose and sucrose turned yellow after incubation, and a bubble of CO2 gas was present in the Durham tube. These results were expected, and showed that S. cerevisiae was able to ferment these two sugars and produces CO2 gas in the process. However, the tube containing lactose was also yellow and contained a bubble in the Durham tube after incubation, which was not expected. This shows that S. cerevisiae is able to ferment lactose along with glucose and sucrose. I did not expect to see this result because lactose is not present in the natural environment of S. cerevisiae. This result could be explained by a gain-of-function mutation in the strain of S. cerevisiae used in this experiment. Another explanation could be that the pH sensitive dye used was too sensitive and turned yellow with only a very small change in the solutions pH.
This experiment showed the ability of S. cerevisiae to ferment three different sugars, lactose, glucose, and sucrose. It was expected that this bacterium would only be able to ferment glucose and sucrose, but my observations revealed that it was able to ferment all three sugars. CO2 gas was observed in all three Durham tubes, and the media in all three tubes changed color from purple to yellow. This clearly showed that S. cerevisiae is able to ferment a variety of sugars, even one that is not present in its natural environment.
The results from this experiment were in accordance with my expected results. When observing the FPDA and PCA plates side by side, there was significantly more penicillium growth on the FPDA agar than the PCA agar. There was growth on approximately 90% of the FPDA plate compared to only about 50% on the PCA plate. The mold on both plates grew outwards in a circular pattern from the point of inoculation with lines radiating outwards from the center. The penicillium on the FPDA plate grew much further away from the center of the agar than it did on the PCA agar. The mold on both plates was green and white colored. The white structures were observed to be hyphae and the green structures were observed to be spores. The penicillium on the FPDA plate was brighter and more vibrantly colored than it was on the PCA plate. The penicillium on the PCA plate was dull and had a brown hue.
In the fungus cultivation portion of this lab, penicillium mold was grown onto two agar plates with variations in nutrient availability. Fresh potato dextrose agar (FPDA) and potato carrot agar (PCA) were the two media used to grow penicillium. FDPA is more nutrient rich than PCA, so it was expected that the penicillium mold would grow better on FPDA compared to PCA. Both plates were inoculated in the center of the agar with a dime sized circle of penicillium and left to incubate.
As a first semester junior, Biology 551 was my first upper level course in my college career, prior to this course I only took mainly introductory level courses so this was one of the first challenges I had with taking this course. This class posed mainly challenges for me because it was also one of the first classes I took at UMass that was heavily based on teamwork and outside research projects. My previous two years were filled with lecture and exam style classes where I was not reliable for contributing to a group and most projects were small and individual. Animal communication improved my abilities to work with a group effectively and forced me to take a stronger hold on my education because I learned that I had to do a lot more outside class work in order to succeed in this class. This class improved my academic abilities, professional abilities, and sparked a stronger interest in the science of animal communication and the function of signals and interactions between animals within a species. It has also improved my abilities to think about how to carry out a research project in terms of thinking of a question and coming up with hypotheses and potential answers, and then developing a research method to effectively find an answer to the question.
In 2017, the city experienced a record number of days that had at least a foot of snow on the ground. From November to early April, for 132 the city had at least one foot of snow. This beat the previous record of 120 days that was set in the winter of 1968-69 (Samenow, Jason. 2017). This example does not show a pattern of increased snowfall but it is an example of above average phenomena. Despite a warming winter, on average, Caribou is seeing a minor increase in snowfall. In general, a trend can not be seen in the snow departure anomalies in Figure 7, but since the mid 1990’s, there are more years with above average snowfall than years with below average snowfall (NOAA National Centers. 2016). Since 1950, 37 years had a higher than average snowfall and only 29 had a decrease. Since 1990, 18 years had a higher than average snowfall and 9 years with less than average. (NOAA National Centers. 2016). This shows a trend towards winters with increased snowfall.
The perfect paragraph assignment gave cause to less stress than the drafts because I felt relatively confident in my paragraph writing. With the drafts, it was a matter of reaching a quota, but I felt that each draft could have served as a perfect paragraph so writing one for submission was not going to be a problem. As I did the project, leaving comments on other paragraphs gave me a better view into my own writing. Looking at other people’s paragraphs and leaving comments aimed at helping improve them gave me a lens to view my own stylistic approaches to writing. I realized how I would set sentences up or how I would phrase something was different than others. I also found that sometimes I would leave a comment and realize that I could do a better job of looking out for the things I was commenting on too. This allowed me to better edit my own writing. Reading your own writing is usually difficult because you know what it is you are trying to convey, but by using a different viewpoint to edit your writing is helpful in evaluating if it is as easy to read as it could be.
The METHODS project intrigued me because I haven’t done anything similar to a project like this in college. I knew this project would be a good challenge for me to write methods in a concise and effective manner. I used to think that my writing was very wordy so going into this project I knew I needed to write many drafts for these methods until I found a description that explained my process of finding a spider web in the best way. Throughout my process of writing my methods, I found that my writing ended up clearer than I thought. This showed when my peer replicated my methods; the replicate was very close to the original! As for the actual report, I was confused as to how to write my findings in an efficient way. It was interesting to determine the distinction between observations and inferences. The practice in writing about these observations was helpful in explaining the findings about the replicate photo without being repetitive or confusing. This project was also helpful in showing how paragraphs should be split up. I never realized how big of an affect splitting up paragraphs has on the flow of a scientific paper. I learned that it is important to keep alike topics in one paragraph, rather than scattering it throughout multiple paragraphs. I will keep this in mind when writing in the future. Overall, I think my classmates also enjoyed this project because it was interesting and fun to see how all of the other replicate figures turned out.