Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grass! Jobs! Bangs!

I spent most of today washing roots for work. I work for the Natural Resource Ecology and Management Department. The study I'm working on right now is looking at the effects of an invasive grass called caucasian bluestem or old world blue stem on the tall grass prairie. Here's a picture of a range of tall grass prairie in southern Kansas called the Gyp hills. My boyfriend took that picture while we were visiting family. Its pretty, eh?
Anyway. These grasses were initially planted because they're really great fuel for cattle. But they're outcompeting all the native grasses, like the bluestem grasses. But we're not sure how they're out competing them precisely. This study looks at whether the caucasian bluestem produce a compound that begatively affects the growth of other species (a trait called allelopathy). So we've got all these different soil types found around the four main grasses of the tall grass prairie (little blue stem, big bluestem, yellow blue stem, and caucasian bluestem). We then planted seeds of all four different grasses in the soil type.
We also autoclaved half the samples and repeated the plantings. This will allow us to find out if (presuming there is a difference, and caucasian bluestem do grow better on caucasian blue stem soil) the allelopathic effect is chemical or biotic, as autoclaving would kill all biota.
So today I washed roots so we can compare the below ground biomass of plants found in different soil types. Pretty cool stuff.
My boss is great. She's a genius range scientist who just transferred to OK State from Konza. She's trying to get used to the beurocracy (which took me five years to do) and having to play politics with a group of male, middle-aged, Oklahoman rangeland scientists. Not an easy feat, especially when department resources are in short supply. But she's defiately stepped up to the plate, and she's been a great help to me. She hired me, spoke at a seminar I hosted, and helped me find a mentor for a research project.

I'm losing focus on studying for that test tomorrow... I know what grade I'm going to make. The same grade I've made on everything in this class all semester. Besides, there's really not enough material for a final. Its like one H' caculation and one standard deviation and its done. Besides, I wanted to cut my bangs.

I have a job interview/meeting with a professor on Friday. He's looking for someone to help with a literature seach over the next two months... something about turkey and cottonwood trees. But I can do a mean library search. And $8 an hour in this town is a lot of damn money... I don't even think the girls at the dragon's lair make that much. I just hope I have time to work two jobs, take 15 credit hours, and make an awesome senior research thesis. This is gonna work out just fine.

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