After spending a day setting up and registering our computers, we spent the rest of the afternoon completing three online safety tests in order to prepare us for work in the lab. The following day we got our WHOI ID/library which is one of the last administrative tasks we need to complete (besides renting our bikes). The next day we got our first taste of working in the lab…called the clean lab. They take every precaution to keep the inner lab clean from dust, debris and metal materials. Things such as metal glasses (or in my case a metal retainer) are unavoidable, but if something can be made out of plastic, then it is used instead.
In order to enter the clean lab, you walk into one room which has sticky paper on the floor on either side of the door. This is to remove any loose dust or debris off your feet much like fly paper. Next you need to get dressed up in a absolutely stunning head-to-toe white outfit! First you put on cloth booties to cover your shoes, then you cover your hair in a stunning but oh-so-light hair net. Then you step into a zip-up white onesie, cut thumb holes in your sleeves (just like how the cool people wear their sweaters), and put on your rubber gloves. Oh yeah, and because I wear contacts, I get to wear stylish plastic visor to cover my face. All in all, I’d say I’m becoming a lab fashionista…with that kind of outfit, I don’t know who wouldn’t!
After going through the procedure of dressing, we finally got to enter the clean lab one at a time. We were showed the ropes on how to prepare the water samples that we will be analyzing. It involves a lot of precise pipetting using nitric acid and an internal standard. It’s a little intimidating trying to make sure you don’t royally mess up, but the more we did it the more confident we got. This is going to be our task for the next few days, so me and my delightful white outfit are going to be spending a lot of quality time together! Oh, yeah…we also each get our own desk! Mine is pictured above with a lovely window looking out over some trees. And we get our names on the door which is quite exciting for a bunch of university students.
Later on we were taken to the roof of our building where we were shown the world’s best clean lab. And it’s not just a saying, it actually IS the world’s best! What a privilege to be able to see it and look inside. They have it situated on the roof of the building because it was constructed inside a container (which looks like a storage container you see on the train). This is so that if they ever want to take it on the open sea, they can transport it relatively easily off the roof. The engineering that went into making the lab is pretty astounding; they took every precaution to make it the cleanest in the world.
It’s a new a day and after a brisk morning walk Audrey and I spent our day in the clean lab performing the same task as the day before. Except this time I got to wear protection glasses…one step up from the visor. The reason for this is that every single visor I tried on broke! Five in total…each one’s elastic had decayed with age. One small step for Rosalie, one giant step for the lab fashion world! Once we finished up for the day, we headed down to the village to pick up our bikes. Let’s see how they (and I) hold up while I get my biking muscles into gear. My bike’s front brakes don’t work and also has no gears…I’ll definitely be working hard to get places, especially with this hilly terrain, haha. We explored some small gift shops on our way back to the shuttle location and picked up some WHOI paraphernalia to remind us of our trip. It also means we have another item of clothing to add to our fairly small suitcase-sized wardrobe. We also looked through the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Exhibit Center which had some awesome displays on ocean life. They had a real working model of ALVIN which is a deep submersible vehicle which explored the first known hydrothermal vent sites in the 1970s and surveyed the wreck of RMS Titanic in 1986. An exhibit about the Titanic was also on display complete with to-scale models. One man spent 3,000 hours to build the models of the wreck pictured below! If you click on the photos of the models you can see the insane amount of detail…so it makes sense that these took about 125 straight days to create.