These past few days have been a blur. A few weeks ago it seemed like we had lots of time to finish our proposal and poster projects. Now it feels like I am running in circles, and getting absolutely nowhere. Monday, our group worked on the research proposal for 6 hours at the dining hall, then an additional 2+ hours at home. We managed to get a lot done, but every time I read through it, seems like we should add more or change something else. The abstract it seems, was the biggest bottleneck. It was a slow difficult task coming up with something that we could all agree on. Some of the issues that we faced as a group where: is it too much information, or not enough. Not citing any resources but sounding credible. Lastly did it seem compelling. In the end we did develop something that seemed to touch all the necessary parts an abstract should have. Compressed courses like this are extremely fast paced and there is not a lot of time for discussion. Just have to hang in there for less than 24 hours then it will all be over. In the meantime, I will try my best to maintain focus, and turn out some quality work for both me and my team.
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The past few days have been a blur. I feel like I am running in circles and getting nowhere. Monday our group worked on the research proposal for 6 hours at the dining hall then an additional 2+ hours at home. We managed to get a lot done but every time I look at it it seems like we should do a bit more. The area of the highest contention was what should or should not be in the abstract. Was it too much or not enough. Not citing any resources was a difficult hurdle to overcome. Compressed courses like this are extremely fast paced and there is not a lot of time for discussion. Just have to hang in there for less then 24 hours then it will all be over. In the meantime I will try my best to put out some quality work.
What is the perfect balance of information in a report? Not enough will leave the reader with more questions than answers. Too much information will cause a lack of interest in reading your report. The information needs to be presented in such a way that it flows and doesn’t repeat itself. How does one decide what to lead the report with? Should all the information covered all be listed first then each point explained with their own paragraph? I feel that the main points are the basis of the paragraphs and the introductory paragraph should explain what the paper is about and set the format in which the information will be presented. The difficult part is supporting information and staying on point. Having someone else edit your paper can really help with this. The author of a paper has personal feelings and biases that will affect making changes to the original work.
The class period today was dedicated to analyzing our leaf samples that we collected yesterday. Our group began to take measurements of the length of the leaf mines, but soon realized that it may not be necessary. Dr. Long recommended that we take a breath and sit down and try to determine what it is that we are trying to show with our data. So Ivan, Stefanie, and me sat down and began to hash out what it is we need from our data. Since we are only looking at mines that are only suspected of being Stigmella multispicata and nothing else we just need to determine what makes the mines on each leaf different, and what makes them the same. After looking at the leaves for a while Ivan noticed that none of the mines crossed the mid rib section of the leaf. This is important because that is one of the characteristics that the dichotomous key lists about S.multispicata. With that and a few more observations we came up with quantifiable measurements and observations that we could use to develop a results and discussion section. After a real slow start and several restarts the project is taking shape and looking good. I couldn't have asked for a better team to work with.
The class period today was dedicated to collecting data. Our group began to take measurements of the leaf mines but soon realized that it may not be necessary. Dr. Long recommended that we take a breath and sit down and try to determine what it is that we want from our data. So Ivan, Steph, and myself sat down and began to hash out what it is we need from our data. Since we are only looking at mines that are only suspected of being Stigmella multispicata and nothing else we just need to determine what makes the mines on each leaf different from the others and what makes them the same. I was all very confusing and I am still trying to process this information in my muddled mind. I ponder what we looked at and I decided to download the measuring software on my own personal computer so that I can tinker with it and try to learn as I go along. Its a slow process but sometimes the things that I learn slow stick around the best. It when I just happen to get lucky and figure something out quickly and without mistakes then I never recall what it was that I did that was so successful.
Class today we split up into teams of 2 and checked trees for the presence of leaf mines. I worked with Steph for this project and our tearrority was the northwest section of campus. The first tree on the list was a Jefferson Elm. This tree had a few mines on the leaves. There was also an odd staining on some of the leaves that I felt could be looked at some other time. The next tree had a few mines on them also, but no real heavy infestation noted. The rest of the trees went about the same as the first two. There were a few that had no mines that we could find but did have other insect damage. There were two trees that we could not check well because the branches were over 3 meters high, making them out of reach. The weather was not the best but it did not make the study impossible, just a little uncomfortable. We were the last group to return from the field so I was unable to talk to anyone else about how it went. Our samples were logged and photos uploaded into a class file so that all the findings can be shared. Dr. Brewer photographed the leaves and put them into a press. I found this type of work to be interesting and I really hope that it becomes some work that can add to the known information regarding S. Multispicata if this is in fact what we are seeing
Today the grope got together to work on our research proposal. The research that we are doing is to verify the presence of Stigmella multispicata in the American Elms on the UMass campus. I feel that we got a lot done on our proposal today. We started with a basic outline that we had been writing in thoughts and facts that we found while studying leafminers and their unique characteristics. The work we did will still require a lot more polishing and refining but I was very happy with all the progress that we made today. Writing a research proposal is different than the manuscript that we just completed. The writing perspective is future tense rather the past tense so it is a lot like asking for permission to do something rather then telling a story about what you did. I am a little apprehensive about presenting the proposal tomorrow because like any work that you do for the first time there is always the burning question "did I do this right?". Tomorrow we shall see if our groupe hit the mark.
The studies that I have read about Stigmella multispicata have only been observed in siberian elms. So after class I drove up N Residential Drive to look at the 7 Siberian Elms that are growing there. I inspected each of the seven trees looking for linear mines in the leaves; this is the type of mine S. multispicata has been reported to leave. After a thorough search I am confident that there is no evidence of leafminer activity on any of the seven siberian elm trees at that location. So this is leaving me with the question “where did the leafminer suspected of being S. multispicata originate from?
Leafminers are an invasive that can damage commercial crops
More from Europe then Asia in North America
Ornamental trees with leafmines are not aesthetically pleasing
S. multispicata only recently described (2014)
Statement of need
Not much information on S. multispicata
How many species of elm have this leafminer infected
Document S. multispicata feeding on elm's other than Siberian
Add to the scientific community's knowledge base about this invasive
Randomly select Elm trees to sample based on location and species
ID Leaf miner activity (on tree and surrounding vegetation)
Collect samples (Infected or not)
Determine the species of leafminer
Our research may add to the data on this species of leafminer
is this species becoming a generalist ( not feeding/breading on specific species)
The last hour of todays class was spent inspecting vairous species of elm trees for the presence of mines. We are peticularly interested in finding Stigmella multispicata mines. The elm's with the most mines are the ones behind Morrell II. No leafminer activity was observed by myself, Stefanie, or Ivan in any of the trees west of Morrell. We did however, see a lot of the resistant american elm with galls on the leaves. Seeing all of these galls I wonder if they are feeding on the leafminers??
After class I drove up N Residential Drive to look at the 7 Siberian Elms. I Did not spend a bunch of time there but I did look closley at the leaves and once again there was no activity to be seen. THis is odd. I am begining to wonder if there is something in the area of the Morrell building that is attracting these moths. That is something that is out of the scope of this class. This is were we learn to write about these things, not actually research them. From what I have read about these studies they have ocured over a much longer period of time then this class would have time for.