Field of Science

Mosses and the Money

March has been a busy writing month for me. I have written 4 grant proposals to try to get a hold of some money to fund my research. I applied to an internal granting competition through my department and outside grants through the Botanical Society of America, American Microscopical Society, and the International Association of Bryologists. They range in funding amounts from $500-$1500. Think good thoughts for me. I am hoping to be awarded some money to fund my moss research. My backup plan is to start regularly purchasing lottery tickets.

In other money news, the two undergrad students who are working with me, Leah and Melissa, both received awards to fund their research. Melissa was awarded $500 from UConn's Office of Undergraduate Research to fund her calyptra study. (A calyptra is a little cap of gametophytic tissue that covers the top of the moss sporophyte as it develops.) And Leah found out on Friday that she was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) grant through the same office as Melissa's award. The SURF award includes $500 to fund her research and a $3000 stipend to cover living expenses. With the economy being down the competition was even tougher than previous years. I heard that they had over 100 applications and gave out ~30 awards. The competition is open to students from all disciplines across the university, so it is pretty exciting that she got this award! I am looking forward to having more time this summer to help in advising her on her project. She will be using DNA sequence data to examine the relationships between members of the moss genus Micromitrium.

I am hoping that this is a good omen and that I will have just as good of money/funding luck as the undergrad students I am advising! I will keep you all posted on the outcomes.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Shamrocks and leprichauns are green just like mosses. To celebrate the day I dug through my digital photos and came up with some green mossy gems to share. Below is a photo of the moss species that I am working on for my dissertation research, Funaria hygrometrica.

This is another species in the Funariaceae, Physcomitrium pyriforme with sporophytes that have matured and are now brown.

All of these photos were taken a couple of years ago. I initially tried growing my mosses on soil in pots in the greenhouses we have on campus. Unfortunately the mist rooms kept them too moist and the mosses were overrun by cyanobacteria and algae. That is when I switched to growing them in little plastic terrariums on a light cart in my laboratory.

I am not sure which species is below. The leafy gametophytes of members of the Funariaceae all look very similar and I did not mark the photo.

There are a few more photos below the fold. Enjoy!

These are some hornworts that my labmate Juan Carlos had planted up in the greenhouse. From the almost readable label it looks like they might be in the genus Anthoceros.

An additional up close shot of the capsules and calyptra of Funaria hygrometrica.

In this batch of bryophyte images I also took a number of shots of the orchids that grow in our teaching greenhouses. Though they are gaudy angiosperms I thought that I would include a couple of them here.

Mosses in Malaysia

My pal Robin (botanist turned geographer) is off working on her PhD in Malaysia for the next 9 months and she sent me this photo of some bright green mosses.

I can't identify it at this magnification, so Robin suggested that I come to identify them in person. I think that a trip to Malaysia sounds like a great idea, but the lab work here in Connecticut is much more pressing at the moment. Maybe I can do some world traveling the summer after I finish up my PhD. I will put in on my wish list of places to visit.

In other moss news from the region I located this website entitled the Malesian Moss Handbook. This website is a work in progress and their goal is to produce an online identification aid to the mosses of the Malesian archipelago (Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Papua). I think that it is a great idea to make content such as this available to the public on the web. Only publishing identification keys/guides in a hard-back book can make accessing the information in them expensive to impossible.

Personal Webpage Update

I took the time over winter break to update my resume/curriculum vitae. Unfortunately with the business of the semester it has languished in obscurity. Since this week is spring break and campus is quiet as the undergrads and my lab mates are off to sunny locals, I got around to updating my website to match.

The general layout is still the same. I added a bit about the research that I did in high school and updated my research interests.

Berry Go Round #14

The latest edition of the plant carnival Berry Go Round has been posted at Gravity's Rainbow.

For more about blog carnivals and my posts about the earlier editions of Berry Go Round, click here.