Tuesday = McCookoutday

By now most of our research students have left campus and August promises to be a quiet month. McCookout will therefore take a break and go on vacation until September. Come next Fall, however, McCookout will return in full force. Every Tuesday at noon we’ll meet in our (not so) new spot in the McCook parking lot to enjoy good food, including a dinosaur cake or two (it’s a potluck – so plan ahead! Or all we get is stale chips and some moldy leftover rolls) and good conversations. We’re all looking forward to seeing you in September, catch up on the news and enjoy some bratwurst and bean burgers.

Summer Research Roundup


The official summer research program ended last week with a big barbecue (Profs Bill Church and Christoph Geiss, head-barbecuists) and summer research presentations. ENVS was very well represented by Dan and Justin, who looked a bit nervous before their talk,
but did a very fine job telling us about their ongoing research in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Now that their standard solutions have finally arrived Justin is eager to get started on his handful of samples.
Rose and Sarah have been working as interior designers, furnishing Cameron Douglass’ lab, and have been kept busy making artificial weeds.
For all of you who don’t have enough naturally occurring weeds in your back yard: all you need is a few sticks, tin snips, blotting paper, and two students who carefully cut out each leaf by hand. My request for naturalistic serrated edges was nixed. Cameron’s weeds have a total of six square blotting paper leaves.
No fake weeds in Christoph Geiss’ lab. Counting pollen is exhausting, as one can see:
and Jami only has twenty five thousand measurements to go. Almost done, I’d say.
At the same time, guest-researcher Kelsey is busy re-learning ArcGIS in the lab. A dozen more maps and she’ll be done as well. Kelsey, just a heads-up: we’ll need the lab in September to teach Geology again, so quit slacking!

Last Call for Fleece Jackets!

Last call for or 2013 limited edition ENVS fleece jacket. Since I sent you all the details in a previous e-mail I am keeping it short and sweet. We’ll be ordering a Patagonia Microsynchilla fleece jacket. It comes in two styles (male / female), four colors, and half a dozen sizes. Cost is 55 bucks for students and 75 bucks for everybody else (list price is $100.00 – so everybody gets a deal). The jackets will have the ENVS logo embroidered on the chest.
I’d like to order them before I go on vacation, so the deadline for your order is Friday 7/26/2013. Follow this link to place your order and send a check to Trinity ENVS. For any questions – send me an e-mail.

Publish, Perish – or Enjoy the Food at McCookout

Kelsey Semrod (’12) of “I want to change my adviser!” fame came for a visit this week to work on her manuscript with Jon Gourley. Kelsey’s senior thesis dealt with heavy metal concentrations in Park River sediments, and Kelsey and Jon had been working to publish the study since last May. After graduation Kelsey spent a few months swatting mosquitoes in northern Minnesota (working for Outward Bound) before getting a job with MicroStrategy as a product manager.
Officially Kelsey came to do research – unofficially she came because she missed McCookout, and her advisers. She even wanted her picture taken with Jon Gourley and Christoph Geiss.
After seeing the picture Christoph was seriously considering asking Jon for his stylish hat. But then – with hair like this you might as well show it off! Thanks for visiting, Kelsey!

Summer Research – the Bugs are out in Full Force

Cameron, Sarah and Rose spent several days in the field this week exploring sites for new research projects. At Goodwin College’s Keeney Cove property along the Connecticut River they battled forests of poison ivy and swarms of mosquitoes (Cameron’s magical shirt kept him bite free – Rose ended up with over 50 nibbles), where they looked at locations for long term floodplain monitoring with Goodwin’s Bruce Morton and Nels Barrett of the NRCS. They also visited Scott Smedley’s compost pile/stone wall research plots in Andover and surveyed invasive plant-filled forest sites for their potential to be restored as habitat for the nearly endangered New England cottontail rabbit.

Now That’s What I Call a Thesis!

Yesterday I received the coolest package ever! Wrapped in two layers of cotton cloth, hand-sewn on the edges, sealed with blood-red wax and an impressive array of labels, stamps and other comments we all speculated about its contents for a while. Our guesses ranged from “looks like a bomb” (but then, how would it ever have made it through customs and its associated layers of border security), to “plain old textbook”, to “whatever it is – it looks impressive”.
Cameron supplied a knife and after a a few minutes of carefully cutting through the strings and seams we stared at the fanciest PhD thesis we’d ever seen.
It was over 300 pages in length (315 pages to be exact) and came with a request that asked me to complete a “detailed adjudication report”. Now, finally,  I recalled having responded to a very friendly request about a year ago to review a thesis, about 100 pages in length.Well, I should have read the fine-print: “about 100 pages of text” … In any case, they called me “Dear Sir”, which is more than I usually get around here, so off to the library I’ll go – adjudicating. Currently, the volume is sitting on my deck at home, under heavy guard from three of Oliver’s Navy seals (for scale). Just for reference: though there is no size requirement for Navy seals (I checked) the average height is 5’10”, so I might have to reinforce my deck to hold the weight of all that paper.
So, now that the new standard for theses is set: you seniors better get to work!

If anyone is interested in the rock magnetic properties of soils from Western Karnataka – let me know. Also, if you can show me Western Karnataka on the map I’ll personally get you a bratwurst at the next McCookout.