Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recreation Day Serves as Practical Application to Our Research

(Rachel was one of two students who worked on the Investigation of Natural Product Biosynthesis project with faculty mentor Dr. Laura Grochowski during the inaugural Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2012.)

by Rachel B., Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger
Left to right: Dr. Grochowski, me, Shannon Brown
During the Freshman Scholars Program, we went to Philpott Lake for one of the day trips. This was an amazing experience and a really good bonding time for the group. Canoeing proved to be a challenge for some, but overall, it was a ton of fun! We swam yards out into the lake and enjoyed conversations that proved us to be a tight-knit group. While out on the lake, my research partner, Shannon Brown, and I discovered that Philpott Lake was just another practical application of our research on methanogens. Making discoveries such as this really help to relate lab work to real world experiences.
We poked our oars in the sediment and found that bubbles arose. This meant that methanogens are producing methane under the sediment and it is rising. Methane is one of the 5 main greenhouse gases and is one of the 2 major gases causing problems in our environment. Carbon dioxide and methane account for most of the greenhouse effect. Methanogens exist everywhere in the world, including places with cow pastures, rice paddies, and marshes. Ruminants, such as cows, produce most of the methane in the world, but lakes are still big contributors to the total amount of methane produced. Philpott Lake will be the subject of part of our research in the fall. Taking samples from places such as Philpott will allow us to understand the individual methanogens that live around Ferrum.

This experience was a wonderful way to enter college. I now know all of my professors for my upcoming classes. It will make the transition into my freshman year much easier. I will be a lot more comfortable going to class and asking questions.

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