Monday, May 24, 2010

work week, take one.


It has been a while since I blogged and a ton of things have happened. Lets start with the reason that we are here, then get to the bonuses at the end.

  Earlier this week I met my lab mentor Denys who I will be working with over the summer. She gave me several papers regarding her current research, to which I will contribute, and showed me around her area of the lab. Her research involves the removal of heavy metals using an inverse fluidized bed reactor that contains a carrier material that is covered with a sulfate reducing bacteria biofilm. In theory, these bacteria will produces sulfide which can then form complexes with the heavy metals located in the water and the entire aggregation will settle to the bottom of the reactor.

In an attempt to estimate the amount of bacteria that are present in the liquid phase of the reactor (those that did not join the biofilm) this week I have been using the Modified Lowery Method, which can be done at room temperature, to determine the amount of protein (from which the bacteria concentration can be determined) in a given sample. The results from the Lower Method will give Denys a better idea of how active the liquid phase of the column is. The first step in the utilization of this method was to produce a calibration curve (exp seen in the right picture above) using the spectrophotometer. After making two calibration curves, one in just water and one in a mineral media, we ran an experiment on the liquid phase of the current reactors that are operating to get an idea of where the samples, diluted and undiluted, would fall on the curve we had developed. Overall it was a very educational week and I had a lot of fun working in the lab. IHE, like the rest of the Netherlands, is very welcoming and friendly and if you stay for a week you feel like you've been there forever. I'm excited to get back to the lab this week and have a positive feeling that I will be able to accomplish a lot for Denys and learn a lot for myself both personally and in regards to my research.

As an extra bonus of being in the Netherlands, the evenings and weekends, especially those containing a holiday, can be spent exploring and learning about other cultures.
First things first, I bought a bike the second week that we were here which, unfortunately, had loose handle bars that would wiggle from left to right. This didn't scare me too much until the cobblestone streets wiggled the screw further out causing a front and back motion to coincide with the right to left motion my handle bars. Although already having fun, this allowed a full range of direction for my handle bars to dance while I was riding. This, luckily, was easily remedied using an allen screwdriver, size 6, from the local hardware store. Now my bike sits happily in the bike room of Mina playing well with all of the other bikes until I need her.

One of the other things that I have really enjoyed in Delft is the underpass that zuidwal takes near the train station. Almost every inch of wall through this part of the street is covered with graffiti. Ranging from 3 toothed apples to super mario characters the graffiti adds a splash of color and life to the surrounding areas. I enjoy looking at the flow of colors and artistic ideas and am impressed that such impressive art can be done with a spray paint can.
I believe that this is part of Delft that changes quickly and isn't ever really the same. Just a couple of weeks ago I was walking under the bridge and saw a few people painting over already existing paint. I'm excited to keep seeing it evolve and change. 

Finally, the last thing I will try to cover in this already huge blog, is our trip to Berlin, Germany. Today, Monday May 24th, is a holiday in Holland so UNESCO-IHE is closed. Taking advantage of this, we all set out for Berlin on Thursday evening after leaving the lab. After a very very long (6hr) train ride we finally made it. 

Berlin was very interesting, filled with beauty, history and emotions about their past and their united future. 

It has been a very exciting and busy week in the Netherlands, and beyond, and I am looking forward to the next.

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