As the semester has come to an end, so has my time in the Geomorph lab until next Fall. Like Chloe, I'll be studying away in New Zealand next semester. As I wrote in my first blog post, research this semester has truly been a learning experience. I learned a lot not only about the subjects we are researching and how our methodology plays into it, but also about how research groups operate, particularly in a college setting.
After fall break, I quickly learned that there was a lot about the research that I didn't even touch on in this first semester, particularly the computational and qualitative aspects. After working with Chloe and Monica on leaching and running the CH-0xx samples, Chloe and I were tasked with running the numbers on as many of these samples as we could. Using a combination of several programs, we gathered and organized the data and eventually exported it to Excel. We then took the activity levels for lead-210 and cesium-137 and corrected these values taking into account radioactive decay, finally getting the numbers we were looking for. At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea how much number-crunching we would be doing, and it was really satisfying to have an actual number to point to and say "that's our data".
It has also been really cool to see that research is a work in progress for everyone. When I first joined the research group, I thought that the methodology was set in stone, but I quickly learned that this methodology was constantly being reviewed and refined through trial and error. I saw this process in action this semester with the introduction of neutralization into the leaching process, which has come with its own set of challenges, but has ultimately proven to be a successful idea.
I look forward to returning next Fall and doing more research!