Greetings from Maine! I think everyone has made it back home now following our 3-day off-loading extravaganza in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. While some of our science party were able to get off of the ship and go exploring the coast (check out this awesome photo of the coast taken by the Videographer Michael Brown), I spent a lot of my time waiting by the dock for different trucks to come by to pick up boxes of scientific equipment and our precious samples. Before those packages could come off the ship, we had to use some massive cranes to off-load the containers that house all of the Jason gear, and then to load up the ship with containers with equipment for the next scientific party. It was a very well orchestrated dance of heavy machinery! Once everything was off of the ship, and all of the labs and staterooms had been cleaned thoroughly, I was able to head out to explore all that St. John’s has to offer, including eating lots of salad (we don’t get so many veggies on the ship)!!
Now I am back at home and preparing a plan to work on all of the samples that we collected. When I was on the ship, I started some incubation experiments with some of the rocks that we collected; now I have to finish up those experiments and start analyzing the samples. The incubations basically consisted of offering a fancy food (13C-labeled sodium bicarbonate, if you want to get technical) to the microbes that might be living on the rocks, and I hope that some of the microbes ate that fancy food and made some new cellular material with it. I will be extracting DNA and other biomolecules from the rocky incubations to see which, if any, of the microbes at the fancy food, and this will tell me something about the function of the microbial community eeking out a living on the rocks. Wish me luck! My buddy “Professor Pressure” – Dr. Peter Girguis interviewed a few weeks back – and his lab also ran some similar experiments with some of the fluids that were collected from the CORK observatories. I can’t wait to see how our results compare!
Thanks for following along with our research expedition! It has been a blast introducing you to some of the great people I get to work with when I go to my ‘home away from home’ on the sea. Stay tuned – many more adventures await!