A Day in the Life

Working here has been great so far. There is much work to be done both in the field as well as at the home base. Having a range of tasks from field to lab to greenhouse has left me feeling satisfied with the best of both worlds.


For starters, a typical day could look something like a nice trek through a forest where I’d find myself measuring & monitoring the growth and health of ohia trees within a fixed radial plot. These plots are 36 meters in diameter with the idea of encompassing a rough 1/10th of a hectare later to be extrapolated across a forest type. 

In the Field: About to hop off a log and start pushing my way through some ginger to get to some Ohia trees

Other field activities would be collecting soils across a large grid at specific points that are charted out using GIS mapping. Someone else within the team does the magic of procuring these points and locking them down as GPS coordinates. Thus, my job becomes straightforward and translates as me going to the site, navigating to each GPS point, collecting each soil sample, and making my way back to the vehicle to later get back to home base. Soil collection days lead to us entering the lab for soil processing.

Soils must be processed and allowed to sit for a month on two carrot slices where they will be later observed for signs of growth. Apparently, this fungus digs carrots and if present will populate its surface. There may be lots of growth known as contamination but I would only be looking for one type of fungus within the mix. Ceratocystis…This is when I could be stationed in a lab under the lens of a microscope looking for the presence of said fungi as it is the main culprit for the rapid-like deaths of the Ohia trees. 

In the lab: Scouring the surface of a carrot in search of Ceratocystis

For other tasks, I might find myself in a greenhouse doing maintenance or prep work for inoculation tests that look at the pathogenicity levels of specific pathogens on Ohia trees. The inoculation trial consists of cotton disks lathered in a pure culture of a suspect pathogen that is placed on an exposed area of the Ohia tree. To do this a wound is made with a sharp object and in this case, a pair of snips are used. The cotton disk is applied to the wound and left for a length of time while observations are made tracking to see if the trees are negatively affected in any way.  In the nitty-gritty of it all, I’ve been doing a lot of weeding and upsizing of Ohia plants into bigger pots until they are able to reach a preferred height for future inoculation trials. 

In the greenhouse: Weed/Fertilizer/Pruning Maintenence of Ohia in the greenhouse for inoculation trial

Working here has been great so far. There is much work to be done both in the field as well as at the home base. 

In essence, all of these tasks from the field to the lab have left me feeling great knowing that I’ve contributed to a bigger cause. Having a range of things to do also helps fight the monotony and lets me know that my presence here was not for naught. I enjoy my time here and would like to continue pouring my time into something that I feel to be worthwhile.

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