STAMPS, Day 1

This was my first day back in Woods Hole at the MBL, this time for the Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Populations (STAMPS) course. The first thing I did when I arrived yesterday was jump in the ocean. After swimming in Ithaca’s gorges all summer, the salty seawater feels so buoyant. The first thing I did this morning was go for a run around Eel Pond and the MBL campus. It feels great to be back, but it’s definitely a bit weird to be here without the whole Microbial Diversity crew from last summer. I think this will be a different sort of experience, and I just need to accept that. There are 60 students, which makes it feel a bit hard to really get to know everyone, especially in just 10 days. I was excited to hear a few other people are interested in soils during our reception introductions last night, but I haven’t had a chance to catch them all yet to chat.

Once again, I feel in a bit over my head, which is basically how I like it. Many people here already have sequence data in hand, which I won’t be generating until this fall, from my field experiment. I guess the flip side of that is that I’ll have the chance to make good front-end decisions. I learned a lot from Hilary Morrison‘s discussion of primer design for Illumina MiSeq this morning, which I will apply when I’m choosing primers for my own samples. So, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot, but I’m very eager to start applying it to my own work. I’m glad that I’m already comfortable in Unix, and have some experience with QIIME and mothur.

A fortuitous thing happened during our evening lab. I had to look in my junk mail folder to find a confirmation email form our course wiki, and while there, I discovered that I was awarded the second prize in the Soil Ecology Society meeting’s oral presentation competition! I probably would never have looked in my junk mail otherwise, so it was really lucky!

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