Back on July 15th we went out to Bay Jimmy to get some mud for our greenhouse plants. The idea is that by adding the marsh mud to our pots, we’ll help to maintain our microbial communities in the soil and grass. It was a fun trip that started with a beautiful day and ended in some heavy rain. Rachel and I collected mud with our labmate Peter. Our collaborator John Pardue and two of his grad students, Matt and Joyce came out with us to sample Spartina alterniflora and mangrove leaves for oil chemistry. Its pretty interesting stuff, I’ll try to get them to write a post about it.
All in all it was a success. We collected about 25 gallons of soil, and the next day we sieved it for plant material (shoutout to Rebecca for working with me on a Saturday!) and put it on our plants. We also ended up with a bunch of great photos thanks to Peter Tellez, another PhD student in a Van Bael lab. Peter studies how endophytes and leaf traits are related in tropical forests, you can read about his work here.
Going through the photos to make this post reminded me how lucky I am to do what I do. I’d volunteer to be hanging out in a marsh even if it wasn’t part of my job. I love benchwork, crunching data on computers, etc. But there’s nothing quite like a coastal wetland hangout to soothe my soul. I remember when I was interviewing for the PhD program I told someone how excited I was to be stomping around in the marsh. There was a pause in the conversation while they probably imagined me as Godzilla on the delicate substrate of a salt marsh. But what I meant was this:
Even when the flies are biting, and my skin is burning from the mixing of sunscreen and my hippie bugspray and my eyeballs are being poked out by cordgrass (which happens more than you would think when you’re carefully digging around in the mud), I’m so stoked that I get to work in such a beautiful place!