Friday, December 4, 2009

Preparations, Celebrations, and Geneious Fever

Another busy week! François has returned to us from Heron Island and Gustav has left us to return to Moorea (he might be on a plane right now). While he was here he entered into an ID frenzy. The first group he tackled was the gall crabs, Cryptochiridae, which live in coral. It's hard to detect the frenzy in the picture below, but it is there. And yes, that is Jenna in the background still toiling away at Geneious. Lest you think she is a Geneious slave, I'll have you know that not only has her tether recently been lengthened, but we also unchained her completely last weekend so she could spend Thanksgiving with her family.

Don't be alarmed, but Geneious Fever has spread from Jenna and JD to the office I share with John. Because his back is to me, I can't see the glassy-eyed stare that is characteristic of Geneious Fever, but the beautifully aligned and colorful DNA sequences on his computer screen give away his condition.

We've also spent some time gathering supplies for Gustav to take with him back to Moorea. A sampling is in the photo below.

Now I realize that to the untrained eye, this assortment of equipment might look vaguely suspicious, but don't worry, the scientific eye can discern that this stuff looks...ok it looks hilariously suspicious, that's why we took a picture of it! But Gustav should have no trouble at the airport, not only does he have museum credentials, but he also has a beard and an accent. In reality, what looks like three sticks of dynamite is actually a battery for an underwater vacuum and the white cylinder is its case. The bags of expensive looking white powder contain the salt magnesium chloride. This substance is used to relax mollusks before preserving them. Relaxing them has a dual purpose, it acts like an anesthetic so it is more humane than just plopping them in ethanol, and it causes them to release their body out of their shell. Some gastropods and most bivalves can be difficult to preserve without relaxing because they seal themselves in their shell and end up rotting because the ethanol can't penetrate.

In the picture below Derek is working on the construction of the battery case. It has been quite a project, and although Derek did most, if not all, of the actual construction of the case, I have a proprietary sense of pride and feel I really contributed to it's construction since I wielded the pcard that made the purchasing of the components possible.

This week the GRR (Genetic Resources Repository) division of the musuem celebrated its 20,000th accession, so they threw a party to celebrate. The GRR is responsible for managing the tissue subsamples for the museum division's wet collections. Our division felt especially proud since we contributed over 54% of the subsamples and the 20,000th lot was an isopod from our collection. Chelsey, Derek, and I posed with the cryofreezer...

...but not before stuffing our faces with cake! While Pam cut the cake Lorena opened the freezer for us to see. This picture was taken after the freezer was open for a while and so it didn't capture the huge billow of steam when the freezer is first opened. Very dramatic!

Now we'll get back to work on the next 20,000!

:) Mandy

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