This week we said goodbye to many of the students and volunteers who are traveling for the holiday season. Maria Wang left behind her dicanthelium to travel to visit with family in the UK. One of our volunteers, Bill W., is preparing for a trip to Panama. While a few people will be coming in next week, we won't see most of our volunteers until next year. We've made a lot of progress in the past few months. Here is a brief summary of what we've accomplished since September:
1. New faces
We hosted several new interns this fall. Five students from Lakeforest College completed a four week internship on various projects (you can read about some of their work on the flog) . Marie (Carleton College) has been doing great work for an ongoing study on flowering phenology in prairie remnants. We will miss her when she goes back to school.
2. Lots and lots of counting
We have made a big dent in counting the achenes harvested in 2011 from the main experimental plot. We finished all counting for the 1999 experiment (4000s batch) and have begun counting for the rest of the 2011 harvest. And of course, no counting endeavor would be complete without a motivational whiteboard graphic.
3. New protocols
Because there are relatively few Echinacea heads to process from this year, we have an opportunity to try out different protocols and improve our methods. Our new protocol for selecting a random sample of seeds will improve our ability to assess pollination based on seed weight. We are also trying out new techniques for extracting seed heads and separating the dust.
That about sums it up. These details (protocols, cleaning, etc.) may seem minor, but they are important for creating reliable data.