Bioaerosols and lab reorganisation

Yesterday I had a meeting with my supervisor and two colleagues about looking at the microbiological measurements we’ve been taking as part of UPTECH. It was an interesting meeting if only for the chance to really see how the four of us are approaching this paper from the point of view of our backgrounds.

Heidi Salonen, who has been working on microbiology with us since Caroline Duchaine went back to Canada, will be the lead author on the paper. She’s got a background in OH&S and this was really clear when she was talking about the need to quantify safe levels of microbiology. I was sitting there asking the questions that will shape the data analysis, like what sort of relationships we anticipate. Mandana Mazaheri was focussing on making use of the rest of the UPTECH data as best we can (we have a huge Access database) and Lidia Morawska was making sure none of us got carried away and that we could agree on an approach.

I’m going to use this paper as an opportunity to push R as our statistical engine rather than Excel (which is all that scientists seem to use). I’m being brought on as the statistician and really don’t want to about learning how to use Excel and write VBA to do the things that can be done trivially in R. R’s plots are a lot better than what we tend to see in Excel and Mandana and I have been learning how polygon() works so we can shade the region between two particle diameter distributions in a plot for a report she’s working on. Mandana’s actually been quite good about learning R and seems to have stuck with it more than a lot of the other PhD students (except for Farhad Salimi, who is doing some really interesting work).

I’d really like to use this paper as an opportunity to have people use git but Mandana and Heidi aren’t programmers, and I think even using R is going to stretch them. A Windows GUI for git was released recently and I’m finding it better for committing and pushing than TortoiseGit or the command line git client as neither of these deal with my ssh keys particularly well. I don’t know what the deal is there. Perhaps it’s better under a more modern version of Windows.

I also spent some time in the lab today helping reorganise it. Me being in the lab is a rarer event than the recent annular eclipse. I don’t work in the lab and so am not responsible for the mess left over from experiments and not putting things away when I’m done, but I do rely on the lab’s monitoring data so it’s only fair that I help out from time to time. Just don’t ask me to help out with any of the science.


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