Lab, library and lots of microscopes

It’s Saturday again and I’m happy to report back that I’ve got through another week of uni. The time really does fly, I can’t believe its the weekend already! The week has passed by with a glorious amount of stress, but not without some special moments as well. On Monday I spent a couple of hours in the Library, a place I’ve almost sort of missed! I found myself a copy little corner in the massive building with quite a spectacular view and did a couple of hours work. On T

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The rest of the week flew by, with me trying to somehow squeeze in mycorrhizae lab time, classes, gym, food and sleep in 24 hours (I wouldn’t say I compleyely nailed it, but I definitely tried so hard). Luckily, Thursday treated me to a bit of a break from the routine with a field trip outing together with my “Host-Parasite Interactions” class. It was lovely to get out into the fresh air and as always it was a great reminder of why I chose this ecology degree and why I love it (sometimes you forget among all the pressures and stresses). We walked around campus whilst my lecturer Iain showed us all the wonderfully vast amounts of parasites living on and in the leaves of trees! We found everything from fungi to arthropods, my favourite probably being the knopper gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalicis) that I discovered lives inside the acorns of oak trees. It does this by distorting the growth of an acorn by chemically inducing it to swell and grow uncontrollably. In the swelled outgrowths of the acorn the wasp lays it’s eggs, which hatch and develop safe within it. We took collected leaves and parasite material back to the Lab, where we cut open the acorns and other findings and peered into the homes of these wonderfully weird creatures under the microscope.

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On Friday the fun practicals continued, this time with my Oceanography class. For most of the practical we counted algae under the microscope for a class data set, which I actually enjoyed and found immensely therapeutic and satisfying (mainly because it was so much more straightforward microscope work than my usual hellish mycorrhizae stuff). In between the data collection the lecturer and his colleagues set up under the microscopes some absolutely stunning examples of varies algae for us to enjoy. Some of them were alive, zooming around and feeding, and others were made frozen and stained with colours that highlighted the different organelles like the nucleus, chlorophyll etc. Another great display were the bioluminescent Pyrocystis lumina in a dark box that we could look into and see algae beaming with blue light when shaken. A great way to end the week!

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Above a sneaky photo of me in action taken by David, and below a photo of algae with nucleus’ lit up with colouring. 

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