Organizing the Chaos

Audrey and I spent the better part of a day or two sorting through samples that were shipped from UFV. Since the majority of the samples need to be kept cold or frozen, they need to be shipped overnight. Apparently it can cost up to $500 to ship a large box of samples across the continent overnight…Crazy!

When the samples come there is a mad dash to immediately sort the samples and put them into the fridge or freezer. Once there’s time, each sample gets an ID number that corresponds to an excel chart on the computer. Any additional information is added into the computer regarding the number of samples, type of samples, date of water sample collection, and who collected it. It’s quite a tedious job, but Audrey and I seem to keep each other on our toes.

Numbers, numbers and more numbers! Audrey and I have been doing our fair share of calculations using the data output from the mass spectrometer in order calculate the actual concentrations of ions in our water samples. It’s quite fascinating to do everything by hand and understand how the computer programs figure out the concentrations. Thankfully we don’t need to calculate everything by hand for the 100+ samples we have…I think we’d be living at the lab for the next month going slightly insane with our hands glued to our calculators. Doing the calculations by hand, however, gives us a whole new appreciation for computer programs!

Once our samples are processed by the mass spec, the data (sadly) is still in raw format. Audrey and I are currently working on manipulating and adjusting the data output in order to figure out the actual concentrations of ions in our water samples. Let’s just say that I have an entirely greater appreciation for people who have mastered Microsoft excel. Although I have learned a lot about the program, it is a complex and finicky program which seems to have a mind of its own at times!

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