It has been over two months since I began my summer internship in the McGuire lab – I love it! Throughout this internship, I have assisted in various projects in the lab and gained experience working with new tools and techniques. I’ve discovered my love for being out in the field!
As far as the dog urine experiment is concerned, we are planning to synthesize dog urine using data from published literature and urinalysis normative data from ANTECH Diagnostics Lab. The specimen from the lab is obtained from a private dog owner. This project will most likely begin in the upcoming fall semester. Results from this project will give us a better understanding of the impact of urbanization on the ecosystem and improve citywide green infrastructure management.
The green roof assembly project is a survey of the soil microbial communities across different ground-level green infrastructure installations in the city. It has been an active study in our lab for the past five years; 2015 marks the last year we are obtaining soil for comparison and analysis. Fortunately, I was able to partake in soil sampling for its final year. My lab mates and I spent early July soil sampling across ten different green roofs (all of which are on the roof of recreation centers) in NYC: Sunset Park Pool, Brownsville Recreation Center, Chelsea Recreation Center, Lyons Pool, St John’s Recreation Center, St Mary’s Recreation Center, Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center, Jackie Robinson Recreation Center, Hansborough Recreation Center and Sorrentino Recreation Center. Back in the lab, we conducted DNA extraction and measured the soil's moisture content and the soil pH in water. A few lab mates are currently finishing up on PCR that will undergo shotgun sequencing in the near future. Results from this project will help NYC better confront global issues such as pollution by finding the appropriate plant community to grow on green roofs.
Within these past few weeks, I have been assigned to a yearlong project in collaboration with Nandan from NYC Parks and Recreation and Ranran, a PhD student from Columbia University. We visit eight sample sites in the Bronx twice a month - these sites are green streets and bioswales. They are designed not only to beautify the streets in the city but also to collect stormwater runoff from the streets after a large precipitation event. Our project goal is to determine whether these ground-level green infrastructures are effective in nutrient recycling and capturing water runoff that would otherwise flow into the sewer system. My role is to collect soil to analyze the role of RNA in nutrient recycling. Since RNA is unstable, sieving and immediate flash freezing with liquid nitrogen is done on site. Nandan aims to test soil mineralization and Ranran measures the gas contained in the interstitial spaces of the soil using a soil-gas chamber (also known as soil-gas sampling). My focus for the yearlong Guided Research & Seminar course at Barnard will be an extension of this study.