Photoelasticity technique for studying a granular system — it reveals the “force chains”


Week 4 in the Harvey Lab- Calcium Confirmation

Xenic Results

By “calcium confirmation”, I mean that we have determined intracellular calcium is NOT involved in our algicidal compound’s mechanism of action. ┬áSometimes that’s how it goes in science, especially in a field where so little is known; you have to weed through many negative results to find the positive hits.

This is the case with my phytoplankton bioassays. Each new crude extract has the potential to contain an algicidal compound, but many crudes are not active against the phytos or even enhance phyto growth (which is cool too!).

The element of chance in my work is one of my favorite aspects. When the crudes are spun down, they look pretty much the same. But when cell counts for a particular crude come back 10 times lower than they started in an experiment, I think to myself, “Wow, whoa, what makes this one so special?” Another exciting aspect is the fact that we have the technology to find out exactly what compound makes them “special,” and then we can go a step further and determine exactly why they function in this “special” way in the ocean.

My campaign to elucidate this mechanism of action continues next week, as I test the cells for reactive oxygen species.