Knowledge has been gathered and passed on through many generations throughout human history, and humans have amassed a lot of information through history. Being a biology student, I can’t help but to be curious to everything that we know. How did we come to find this out? How did people even think to go about doing certain things that led to massive discoveries? I guess some of that can be answered by pure chance, as they say sometimes the best discoveries are the ones you make by accident. One such example is the discovery of penicillin, but circumstances such as this often make me wonder, if that hadn’t happened, would penicillin not have been discovered until much later? How many things have been right under our nose by chance, but we just haven’t noticed them? How long until something like that will come along again? Maybe I ask too many questions, but in biology I think that’s acceptable.
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It's amazing to me just how much stress can affect us and our every day lives. When we feel stressed it is because our brain is releasing high levels of the hormone cortisol - the stress hormone. High levels of stress can affect how much sleep you get, and lack of sleep has been proven to have a number of detrimental effects. A combination of stress effects can lead to depression and severley limit levels of productivity. Lower levels of productivity can lead to results in work that are less than satisfactory and may keep the cycle going of negative experiences. It is important to manage stress and try to keep cortisol levels low. While stress is just another part of life that we have to face, it's important to get to know how to manage stress levls when they get high so that it doesn't affect day-to-day life so much. Regularly taking small breaks from work and breaking tasks up into smaller portions can be an effective way to manage workloads and the stress that comes with them. While there is no end to the stress that may come our way, it is still important to acknowledge that it will be coming and that there are steps we can take to try to lower stress levels and make the best of what's in ahead of us.
The diversity in the field of biology is part of why I am attracted to the subject. Biology encompasses many subdisciplines and can range from macro-scale ecology type studies, to more microscopic studies such as biological cellular mechanisms. Many biology students I've encountered are on the pre-med track, aiming to be doctors and sepcialists after their time at UMass. Other biology majors I've encountered are more interested in conserving the environment, or specializing in certain organisms such as mammals, fish, or birds. An undergraduate degree in biology can open many doors, and combining the degree with research experience in your desired subdiscipline can be very helpful in finding a job right out of school. When i joined the College of Natural Sciences, I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do with my biology major, but I also learned a lot about things I never considered I might learn about. My undergraduate experience in biology has been very educational and fulfilling, and has so much value.
Figure 1. Swamp sparrow perched in a wetland environment. The conical-like beak shape is adapted for eating insects and seeds, depending on the food sources available. "Swamp Sparrow" flickr photo by dmoon10751 https://flickr.com/photos/birdnerds/41768202082 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license
The power of the mind and mental state has always been of interest to me. Many people have heard of Buddhist monks and what they have been able to accomplish with the power of meditation, whether it be the ability to withstand freezing cold temperatures or go days without food or water. I don’t know the truth to a lot of these kinds of stories, but it’s interesting to think about how you might be able to control more than you think with your mind. It’s interesting because you don’t have much control over what happens inside your body; the only thing you can control is your breathing rate which may in turn affect heart rate and other bodily processes. I guess the only way to know for sure if meditation really has the power I’ve heard of is to give it a try myself.
Things I did on campus
- Went to class
- Went to the library to do homework
- Ate lunch
- Went to the gym and worked out
Things I did at home
- Woke up
- Got dressed
- Made and ate breakfast
- Did the dishes
- Brushed my teeth
- Did homework
- Watched TV
- Got ready for bed
- Went to sleep
- Brushed my teeth
- Put in contacts
- Getting dressed
Places I went to eat
- Dining Hall
Places I went to do homework/study
I woke and checked my phone. After looking at my phone for 10 or so minutes, I get out of bed and go to the bathroom. I then head to the kitchen where I make breakfast and eat it. After I’m done with breakfast, I wash any dishes I used and return to my room to get dressed. After I get dressed, I brush my teeth and put in my contact lenses. I then gather anything I need for school and leave my house for my car. I drive to campus lot 12 and then walk to class. After being in class I head to the library to get some work done. I then head to the dining hall to eat some lunch, after which is usually time for my next class. After my last class, I head to the gym to work out. I then head back to my car and drive back home. Once inside I shower and then eat some dinner. If there is work, I feel needs to be done I would then do it, otherwise I would relax and watch TV or play guitar. Once I’m tired, I’ll get ready for bed and then go to sleep.
Agriculture is a process that impacts everyone worldwide, yet most people do not consider the science that goes into efficient agriculture, not only in terms of crop yield but in the way that the farmland is used and how farmers maintain their crops. An important aspect of crop growth as well as the growth of many other plants, is the relationship that the plant has with mycorrhizae fungi. About 70% of plant species have a relationship with a type of fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM). These fungi take up residence in the roots of a plant and can provide the plant with essential nutrients for survival as well as water, and in return the plant supplies the fungi with the sugars that it produces. A paper I read today reviewed why farmers should consider the number and types of mycorrhizae that might reside in the soils being used for agriculture. Not only can the mycorrhizae improve the quality of the yield, they also contribute to soil structure as well as reduced nutrient loss in the soil. AM fungi have been shown to increase yields in crops such as potato and cassava, and intermediate response levels in cereals such as wheat. For these reasons, the paper argues that farmers should have more interest in managing the levels of mycorrhizae in the soil. Using products like fertilizers and fungicides can disturb the soil make-up and inhibit mycorrhiza growth, which can lead to poor soil quality and nutrients, which is not sustainable in long-term production of food. The goal of this paper is to bring forth the idea that when we reconsider how agriculture is practiced, we should take into account more than just increasing yields of crops. The soil, the relationships of biota within the soil, and their well-being are just as important for agriculture as obtaining high yields to feed the growing population.
Today I observed a leaf composed of three leaflets, similar to a clover. The middle leaf was larger than the two to the side. The leaflets had two different-colored sides; one side was a darker green color while the other was a pale green color. Looking at the pale side of the leaves it was easier to see some of the discolorations on the leaves and stems. The most obvious blemishes were dark marks made by leaf miners, which are little insects that use the leaf as a place to lay eggs and feed during the early part of their life. One of the dark blemishes was almost circular which can be seen on the right-hand leaf looking from the dark side, and had a small orange spot towards the bottom of the blemish. On the pale side of the leaves, small brown spots can be seen covering all three leaves, and there can be seen a silvery or reflective discoloration on the left half of the right-hand leaf. The leaves had a slight brownish tint on the edges, and each leaf had a number of indentations on the edges. The middle leaf had six indentations, and from the dark green side, the leaf to the right had 3 indentations while the leaf to the left had 5 indentations. The leaf measured about 7.5 cm from the tip of the stem to the tip of the middle leaf. From end to end of the side leaves it measured about 6 cm across. The stem was a dark reddish-brown color on the dark green side, while it was pale on the other side, the side which I assumed was not in direct sunlight. The leaves on the pale side also had a velvety texture, while the darker green leaves were more waxy, which are properties that I assume help with sunlight absorption and photosynthesis.