My first field work

It’s been three and a half years since I started my PhD program and the UPTECH measurement campaign finished a matter of weeks ago. So I’m a little late to the game but last week was my first field trip campaign. Rohan Jayaratne had been trying to organise this trip over the last two weeks, waiting for a time where the wind would be blowing in the right direction, checking the wind forecasts every day for a while. On Tuesday we finally headed out to do the measurements with another PhD student, Megat Azman Megat Mokhtar.

We’d had talks about what sort of questions we’d be attempting to answer and how we could ensure we collected data that would allow us to answer them. What started out as a fifteen minute chat about equipment turned into a long discussion about semi-parametric regression and how interactions of non-linear effects can be fit. What was going to originally be just a publication of some observational results is probably going to end up with some generalised additive models attempting to model the interactions we expect to see.

Rohan, Megat and I packed up the car at about 8:30 and drove out to the Gateway Motorway to do some roadside measurements. We took some Nanotracers and a CPC and spent the day taking continous measurements. The Nanotracers are very new and we’ve been using them with UPTECH to measure child exposure to ultrafine particles. It was interesting to see the setup of the equipment and gave me a greater appreciation for just how much work everyone put in to the UPTECH study.

The Philips Aerasense Nanotracer: fastest personal sampler in the West

Megat brought two walkie-talkies with him for us to use to communicate when one of us was away from where we’d set up. To relieve the (my?) boredom in some parts, I treated Megat and Rohan to a rendition of Toto’s “Africa” and Four Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?” (often called “What’s going on?”).

The weather was very pleasant, the wind more or less exactly what we wanted and we managed to get about six hours of measurements before heading home. We’re now at the stage of having the data cleaned (checking for errors in the measurements) and doing some exploratory data analysis. In the coming weeks, provided I’ve got time for it, we’ll be looking at our modelling. I hope to put a preprint up when we’ve submitted it. It’s going to be a very interesting piece of modelling and Rohan sees it as an update to a paper our group has previously written but with better analysis and a more novel data collection technique. I’m excited.


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