Becoming A Master – Back to GIS

Week 32

Hello and a very happy Sunday to you! So this week I have been using all my GIS skills once again but now I’m using them in my dissertation. If you didn’t know GIS stands for geographical information systems and is a really cool tool you can use to layer information that has a spatial element. Then you can build up the layers to see if there is a correlation between all of the information. I’ve talked about all the ins and outs with GIS before and you can read about it here if you’re interested.

In terms of GIS for my dissertation, I’ve been putting all my results from my field work onto a map to see if there is any connection between the biodiversity I’ve found and other spatial elements. Particularly when questioning whether the presence of trees in the hedgerows affect the general biodiversity. This is when I would show you my beautiful maps but I need to keep them to myself for a little while until my dissertation gets marked. However the basics behind it is I have mapped out the trees in my survey area as a layer and then I mapped over the biodiversity I found using the alpha biodiversity. This can then show me where the biodiversity is lower and if this happens to be where the hedgerows are dense with trees.

I’m using a similar technique to show the affect of badger damage on hedgerows. Badgers will often use the hedgerow to build part of their sets. This can often lead to lots of the plant life being destroyed. So I’m using GIS to see if that is an issue on my sample site too!

GIS is one of those tools that never fails to provide you with a fantastic figure and is a great skill for any budding biologist out there to learn!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – A Week In The Life

Week 31

Hello everyone, this week has been a busy one and instead of writing this on a Sunday and reflecting on the week just gone I’ve written a little each day. Hopefully this will show you that in my life currently there is no daily routine and every day is a little different.

Monday: Today I’ve been running a few errands, getting the shopping in and such as well as catching up on the emails I missed from being at home. I also spent a lot of today researching and writing for The Woodland Trust. I really love the volunteering I do for them as I just learn so much! If you’d like to see the work I do for them here are a few links:

Wild Orchids in the UK

Why Do Nettles Sting?

How to forage wild garlic!

Tuesday: Today I’ve been running through my statistics focusing on finding statistically significant results. These are important as when something is statistically significant you can say with more confidence that one thing is affecting another. This can be difficult to show in ecology as there are lots of variables out in the outside world!

Wednesday: Today I’ve been continuing with my work on Tuesday but also developing my reasons why I’m finding certain results. Stats can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers! I’ve been developing theories and working out what I want to say with my dissertation. This has somewhat left me with a few moments of yelling into a pillow when I don’t know which way is best! – All the fun of a masters I guess!

Thursday: The statistics continued today and I managed to answer some questions that I had from yesterday. I also collated all the work I’ve done so far for my meeting tomorrow.

Friday: Today I had a meeting with my supervisor for my dissertation. He gave me lots of ideas about how to use all the data analysis I’ve doing to create a succinct and convincing story. Which is great because I have a lot of editing to do!

After my meeting I went to go and give blood for the first time! I’ve always wanted to do this because I have no reason why I cant do it and every time someone gives blood they can save three different lives. It’s an incredible thing to do so go and do it if you can. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as how I’d built it up in my head and the nurses were totally lovely!

Saturday: So today I wrote up everything from my meeting and got to some planning. Although I did spend the afternoon on the sims… everyone needs a break!

Sunday:  I’m currently writing this just before I’m about to head out to spend some time with friends and my wonderful other half. We’re heading to the pottermore pop up shop in London and I am so excited! If you are also a potter fan let me know in the comments!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this update!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Alpha Diversity

Week 30

Hello friends! This week I have been all about the alpha diversity statistics so I thought I would tell you about how and why I’m doing it. Alpha biodiversity is effectively a way of working out the biodiversity in a local area. This can be done within a quadrat or within sections of a transect. For my dissertation I am looking at the alpha biodiversity of each of my hedgerows in my study.

To do this I’m using some software called EstimateS and I put in my results and then it uses different formula to find different alpha biodiversity scores. There can be different scores as lots of different studies have developed different mathematical formula to work out the biodiversity. Each formula is more effective for different types of study. For example a study looking at insect species richness may find a different formula gives a more accurate representation of alpha biodiversity than a study looking at salt marsh plants. I have four different formula to choose from and hopefully by next week I will have settled on one to use.

It’s been another heavy computer week but I did head home to Cornwall this weekend (why this blog is a little late) to run around the fields and check up on my hedgerows.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little update and a little lesson on statistics!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Procrastination Queen

Week 29

Hi friends, I’ve tried to start this blog in several different ways and none of them seem to be working. I think it’s mostly because I don’t have much to say as I haven’t done much on my masters this week. *Hangs head in shame*. This has happened for a couple reasons, firstly I’ve been doing plenty of writing for the Woodland Trust. Their blog is one of the most comprehensive for all things wildlife and its a total honor to be writing for them. I’ve also been pre-writing a lot of blogs for this internet space so I can try out some other creative projects.

It has also been beautifully sunny here in London and I have been staring out of the window like a puppy so I have been going on a few outdoor runs. I used to hate exercising but I found a new app called Zombie Run and I am now addicted to it!

Really all the spells out is….

Image result for procrastination spongebob meme

Hopefully next week I’ll have some tips on how to beat this and a complete list of things I’ve done to get this masters degree done! But for now shall we just sit, have a cup of tea, pop on the telly and forget we have stuff to do!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming a master: So many hedgerows

Week 27

Hello! So the past two weeks have been consumed by all things fieldwork (and a friends wedding). Doing fieldwork is one of my favourite things about being a scientist. It feels like real science even though all of the work that I do is real science. I love getting up close with nature and I learn a lot in a really short space of time. However as I’m writing this now I’ve completed all my fieldwork for this piece of work so I thought I’d tell you my top 5 things I’ve loved about the past 3 weeks of field work and 5 of my least favourite things!

Not So Great Things About Fieldwork

  1. The Elements – I’ve had all weathers whilst doing this work, I’ve been in torrential rain and bright (burning) sunshine. All weathers have there downsides and it can make things a bit tricky when trying to identify a plant you think you’ve never seen before.
  2. Working Alone – Some of my fieldwork I’ve had to do alone and this sucks because I have to carry all my equipment by myself and it takes a lot of self motivation to stay out in the rain when you’re by yourself!
  3. Stinging nettles – They were everywhere and I had so many stings on my hand at one point that it didnt stop tingling for a good day and a half.
  4. Rabbit Holes – Now I’ll never win a competition at being the most graceful but over the past 3 weeks I’ve fallen into more rabbit holes than I can count. Sometimes falling into stinging nettles!
  5. Long days – When I’ve been out and about I tend to stay out! Then when I came home I made a point of putting all my data into my computer  there and then so it couldnt get lost. All this made for a very sleepy laura!

Things that make fieldwork the best thing ever!

  1. The Views!!! – I’ve been working in Cornwall, which just so happens to be one of the most stunning places in the UK (although I am ever so slightly biased). Even in the pouring rain I could look up from my work and see the most stunning views of cornish countryside. I’ve been posting lots of pictures on my instagram if you want to take a look!
  2. Learning – The best way to learn how to identify plants is to get out in nature. I’ve learnt so much over the past three weeks about the names of different plants and their characteristics and it is so rewarding!
  3. Having my field assistants! – Luckily my sister and both of my dogs were able to come out with me on some of my days out and about. My sister is a fabulous assistant and I cannot thank her enough or I would have probably been out in the field for another three weeks getting it done. And my dogs are the cutest things you’ve ever seen and never fail to make me laugh.
  4. Its so much fun! – I love being out and about in nature whether its work or just walking around so I loved these past few weeks!
  5. My glorious data set – I now have the most stunning and massive dataset that I think I’ve ever created by myself and I love it!

Anyway I am now back in London for stage 2 of the project which is statistics. I can’t say I’m all that excited as stats has never been my forte but I’m excited to see what my data really says!

See you all soon and thanks for reading!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Start of Something New – Becoming A Master

Week 24!

Hello, so this week I’ve actually had some time to rest up after the assignment but on Friday I started my final stage of the degree. This is the term I will complete my dissertation, so I had my first meeting with my dissertation supervisor who agreed on my project. I’m completing my research on the biodiversity in hedgerows and so on Saturday I went and did a preliminary check on the hedgerows I want to analyse.

It’s the start of the next big project for me and I’m really excited to get going with it!

Unfortunately once again its a short blog post but there will be more next week when the prep work begins!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – Deadlines, Deadlines Everywhere!

Hello!

So it has not been a great week for BEDA. Mainly because my deadlines came and tapped me on the shoulder and then I went into a little bit of hibernation. I am nearing the end and next week I’m free. But for now I better get back to it because I’ll be honest I’m at the green stage of this beautiful diagram.

Facebook-Creativity-at-its-finest-064900.png

I’ll be back next week!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Cornish Lass – Becoming A Master

Week 22

Hello! So this week seems to have been a long one. That could have been from a combination of factors. I spent the first half of my week working on assignments and going a little crazy for being inside so much and then I got on the longest train journey (wasn’t really, it was just very busy) to spend the easter holidays with my family.

I if you did not know come from Cornwall and in my humble opinion it is one of the best parts of England. I’m lucky that where I come from is a holiday destination because its just amazing. On Friday I got to go the beach where there was even a small area of salt marsh which I was happy to see. My garden at home I’ve actively encouraged to be a little paradise for nature and I was so happy to see tadpoles in the pond and bees in the trees.

And unfortunately that’s all I really have to say with this week. I thought it was important to give myself a little bit of time off from working this weekend, but here I am at 8am on a Sunday about to do some more work on my assignments! Alas deadlines are coming soon and then these posts will get much more exciting again I promise!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – GIS: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

Week 21

Good Morning folks, as I start writing this it is 8:50am on Tuesday and I am sitting down for a day with my good friend ArcMap. That if you did not know is a piece of Geographical Information Software, otherwise known as GIS. I’ve taken a module this term in Environmental GIS which has been my favourite out of the four I’ve had this term. That however does not mean I don’t occasionally fall out with it. So I thought for this weeks BAM I’d talk about the pros and cons of GIS. I’m also spending this week finishing my assignment for this class. I’ll let you know at the end of this blog if I’ve done it by the time you read this.

I’ll start with the cons…

  1. The dreaded X – Now I’ll admit I am still learning how to use the software, so I do on occasion come across this X in my results field after running some analysis. Thats all well and good if you know how to fix it. I often don’t and sometimes the error messages are not helpful at all. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s saved me so many times from the X.
  2. Waiting – My biggest flaw is arguably that I can be a very impatient person, particularly when I have a lot on my plate. Arc Map can at times be impossibly slow (right now I’m waiting for some raster calculation results). I can therefore get a little annoyed by this, particularly if my results come back with an X.

Now on to the pros

  1. Pretty Maps – You can create some really amazing stuff with GIS, not to mention the amount of maps online. I even found a GIS map of Westeros!
  2. The sheer joy when it works –  Getting the little tick of approval is just marvelous! Its such a sense of achievement when it all goes the right way!

Hopefully some of you who work with GIS can appreciate my snuggles. Hope you’re enjoying BEDA so far you can catch up with any episodes missed on the extras page!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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Becoming A Master – The Last Week of Lectures

Week 19

choronomidHello, Hope you have all had wonderful weeks! Mine has been busy thats for sure. I started out the week looking at Choronimids which are non-biting midges and finished the week with looking at contaminants in water systems. Which is as typical as its been every week this term. It’s been a challenging term for sure, I’ve been tested on lots of different areas of science like chemistry, maths and even a little bit of physics. Just call me ThatScientist! I also feel like I’ve learnt more this term than ever before!

The work does not stop though, I now have just under four weeks to get all of my deadlines in. So effectively I am chained to my laptop for the next four weeks therefore my BAM episodes might be a little short but I promise to try and make them interesting.

Also before I go as it is Mothers Day here in the UK can I just say that my mum is the best human being and has taught me so much. I wouldn’t be able to do all that I do without her and I love her so much. Thank you for being the best role model in the world.

See you next week!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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