This week I have continued to work with the experiments utilizing both methyl orange and methyl blue as indicators to determine the effectiveness of titanium dioxide as a water purifier. These experiments have been done both using a UV crosslinker and out in direct sunlight. Although I have done this experiment a number of times throughout the course of my internship, it never ceases to amazes me! When I see the results in action it is hard for me to reflect on the fact that it probably took months to research the background knowledge necessary to even develop the materials and techniques that we have been using. With that in mind, I can’t wait for the day when the applications of what I have been doing this summer will become a well-known piece of technology used by anyone who needs it.
This week I also continued to work on the applications of titanium dioxide on the inhibition of algal growth. As an initial step my mentor and I worked on first drying out the current algal samples from Ascarte park. To do so, the sample, including the water it was placed in, was filtered out. The remaining algae was placed in a beaker with filter paper and covered with a chem wipe and placed in a drying chamber overnight. The idea was to see a way that we could dry samples of algae to determine an initial weight prior to inhibition studies. Before checking on the sample I assumed that it was going to look like dried oregano. Surprisingly enough when we went to go and check on the sample the next day, it looked as if we had just placed it in the drying chamber. Whaaaaat?!? Mind blown! Since neither one has worked with algae before, we decided to leave it in the drying chamber and check it again the next day.
As a backup plan, I also went to go and collect a lot more algae from Rio Bosque, a local nature preserve (see image below). This in itself was quite an exciting adventure as it including hiking along a variety of trials, spotting a variety of organisms. While out I saw and heard bullfrogs along the water’s edge, hoping to catch the dragonflies in the area I am sure. I also saw a variety of birds, trees…and algae. It was quite an adventurous trip to collect the super stinky specimens…now off to the lab!
Finally, perhaps the most helpful task completed this week included the round robin lab tours. Before completing these tours I assumed that I was falling completely behind during this summer experience. However, when I was presenting what I had been doing in the lab so far as well as future plans, I began to realize just how much I had learned in the short time that I have been in the lab. Also, when speaking to the other interns, I realized that some of the fears I had were shared among the group or were easily displaced once we had a chance to discuss. What a relief that exercise turned out to be.
…and with that, and with everything that has been done this week, I can see just how much we all have grown.