HERA XVII – NASA Mission Prep

Well, this is my last full week at the University of Massachusetts before I take a 2 month leave-of-absence to participate in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  I will be living with 3 others in the HERA habitat for 45 days, during which time we will have very limited contact with the outside world, eat delicious freeze-dried foods, shower in a ‘hygiene module’, and simulate flying a spaceship. Weird? Exciting! Continue reading

Lindavia intermedia

This blogpost is about a complicated little diatom. We just published a short nomenclatural article in the online journal Notulae Algarum that rectifies naming problems that have plagued the centric diatom currently known as Lindavia intermedia. The diatom was originally described from samples taken in Alaska (hence my interest), but has undergone a myriad of genus changes and status changes (ie. changing from a variety to a species). In writing the article, I learned a great deal about the rules of taxonomy and how we name organisms, especially algae. A fun project, and special thanks to Mark Edlund and Phil Novis for helping get this out. For more on this diatom, refer to the article here, or to the Western Diatoms webpage.

Internal view of a Lindavia intermedia valve under SEM

Valve view of Lindavia intermedia under a light microscope

Mashapaug Pond Paleolimnology

Urban ecosystems and green spaces are paramount to the mental well-being of communities. Lakes and ponds in particular provide a critical venue for recreational opportunities from swimming and fishing in the summer, to ice-skating in the winter, and in some cases provided drinking water to local communities. Because of their proximity to residential and industrial developments, urban ponds are also vulnerable to local sources of pollution such as road and lawn runoff and factory effluent. No pond typifies both the importance and vulnerability of urban ponds better than Providence’s Mashapaug Pond. Continue reading

Limnology Field Trip

Yeah, we take limnology seriously

Well, classes are wrapping up at Brown and my official duties as Limnology TA are done. But my unofficial duties aren’t complete until I get some more awesome limno field trip pictures online. The class does two trips to Pout Pond (Belmont, NH) each year. The first trip is in winter (see previous post), and the second trip, shown here, is in spring.

Continue reading

Sediment Coring in Rhode Island

Chris pounds the core tubing into the marsh.

Hi. I hope that my abundance of field-work related pictures does not lead you to believe this is all I do. The vast majority of my time is spent in the lab or on the computer analyzing samples and data, and making figures and writing. These are all very exciting things to do. None-the-less, I am sharing more field work pictures because they are prettier. Two field projects I helped with this spring involved sediment coring in Rhode Island. Continue reading

Limnology Field Trip

Hello blogosphere! Happy 2016!! We survived winter and the geology field season is ramping back up in the northern hemisphere. To kick off the 2016 fieldwork campaign I went with Brown University’s Limnology class, taught by Jim Russell, on a field trip to New Hampshire. The goal of the class is for students to become familiar with and proficient in all things related to lakes, and this includes field sampling. Six students, Jim, and I went to Pout Pond, near the town of Belmont, NH to take water measurements and samples. Students measured lake temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, alkalinity, and secchi depth, and took water samples to measure salts and nutrients.

Here are some pictures from the beautiful day.

Blood Moon Pictures

I recently moved into a house on Transit St. in Providence. Legend has it that the house was built by the aunt of composer George Cohan (this was a big selling point for me, no doubt). But, that is only kind of cool in comparison to the etymology of the street name itself. Transit Street was so named because in the 18th century, it was considered one of the prime locations in the world to view the Transit of Venus (the passage of Venus between Earth and the sun) and astronomers from New England gathered there to watch the event in 1769.

The pictures below are not the Transit of Venus, but they do represent a planetary transit that I captured earlier this fall. It is the blood moon – a combination supermoon and complete lunar eclipse. I took pictures at 30x optical zoom with my Nikon point-and-shoot camera mounted on a tripod. I was pleased with the outcome from such a small camera. Enjoy.

The start of the lunar eclipse

Just about fully eclipsed

The Blood Moon.