by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham
The lab work is nearly complete.
I have been extremely busy over the last few months. I am not a chemist, but this PhD required a good chunk of chemistry. It has been a huge learning curve for me.
All my experiments so far have told me how well the heather is growing in the soils that I collected from around the country, all with different nitrogen deposition values. These new experiments will tell me WHY the plants grew the way that they did by telling me how much nitrogen and phosphorus they took in during growth. Both these elements are essential in plant growth.
During December, I was in the lab virtually every day trying to learn the tecniques involved. Things didn't always go to plan. I would fill fifty tubes with all the chemicals, only to find out that the reactions didn't take place. I remade all the reagents, but it still didn't work. It took over a week, and a great deal of research, to find out that one of the dry chemicals isn't stable in solution. It could work for three weeks, and then suddenly stop working.
During January and February I have been putting my techniques into practice. Data collection begun on January 11th. All has gone to well so far, and I hope to be finished by next week. After these experiments are complete I will hopefully start writing my first paper, and start to write my final thesis.
In the meantime, these two videos explain what I have been doing for the last few months.