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Progress and troubleshooting

During this week, I gained a better understanding of the use of the HPLC machine. Earlier in the week, I assisted in making different pH buffers for one of the solvents for the HPLC machine. Another person working on the metformin project showed me how the HPLC machine worked, and how to understand the date the machine generates. This has helped me greatly in understanding how the results of my photodegradation experiments will be generated, as well as showing me how to troubleshoot anything that may go wrong in the HPLC machine. However, I have learned that the machines will take at least 20 min per test, due to the slow eluting time of metformin and guanylurea.  

I tested out the solar simulator for the first time this week. It’s fairly simply to use, but the lens was closer to the surface of the table than I thought. The thermometer I had originallt intended on using was too long so a new one had to be obtained. However, due to the intense light produced by the simulator, the ice used to control the temperature began to melt, causing the temperature regulation to no longer be as efficient. More testing will have to be done in this area ext week before setting up the full scale experiment.

The phytoplankton uptake experiment on the other hand, has run into some issues. It turns out that most of the method used to grow and monitor the phytoplankton growth rate has been incorrect, leading to the strange data found by the fluorometer. Originally, the stock I took the phytoplankton from was on a lower shelf, with a lower light level. Due to growing them so suddenly at high light levels, some of the phytoplankton died, leading to the slow growth I was experiencing. In addition, the wrong module was being used, leading to data points in growth that may not be correct. I will rectify those errors next week to gain accurate data on the growth rate of the phytoplankton.

On Thursday, I went out to the field with Brittany to collect water samples for the first time. I never realized fieldwork could be so interesting before. Turns out all sorts of things can still go wrong, even when collecting water samples. We broke the collection jar and left with 1 less sample than originally intended.

Next week, I hope to do my first run of the photodegradation experiment, as well as measuring the growth rate of the phytoplankton. Hopefully, both will yield some data that I can use to further refine each experiment.