Work Hard, Play Hard

Work Hard, Play Hard

By Emmi Kurosawa

Emmi the “Bush-walker”

Hello everyone, my name is Emmi Kurosawa. I am a PhD candidate from University of Massachusetts Boston doing collaborative research with Associate Professor Joanne Oakes here in Southern Cross University (SCU), Lismore, NSW, Australia. I was here in 2020 as a part of the LOREX cohort 1. I’m back for more this time as a part of the LOREX cohort 3!

My LOREX trip overlapped with fellow LOREXer, Abby Webster.We had about 4 weeks of having discussions, helping each other’s research, and having fun sight seeing! As Abby described in her blog, Lismore resides in a coastal subtropical region. Now that December is approaching, it is getting hotter! Staff and fellow colleagues at SCU are amazing! They are from all over the world, all very friendly, and will jump in to help you out when you need it. I have made some really good friends here.

A wild koala found on campus

One of the best things about being in Australia is to be amongst its unique and rich biodiversity! SCU is a koala friendly campus and we get to observe wild koalas throughout the campus! Everyday I enjoy the walk from my lodge to the uni looking for koalas and talking to magpies (one of Australia’s most intelligent bird species). And of course, traveling the inter-states to find rare carnivorous plant species is the best part of all!

 

This time around, my mission here is to measure possible fractionations of heavy nitrogen (15N) occurring during botanical carnivory. Yes, the fractionations which might happen when carnivorous plants like venus flytraps eat insects! Instead of venus flytraps, I am using native aquatic carnivorous plants, bladderworts and hoping to measure fractionation when they eat zooplankton. My experiments were all planned up, and preliminary studies done before I came to SCU. So I thought…

My experimental set

Things started falling apart soon after I set up the experiment! The first bladderwort species, Utricularia australis, did not like my experimental condition and started dying! So I had to change the species to a smaller but tougher U. gibba. Our plan was to feed the plants with two different species of live zooplankton, however, all of the zooplankton I ordered died during shipment! So I changed it to use zooplankton eggs that can withstand shipping and feed them to the plants as they hatch. During these trial and errors, 3 weeks have already gone! Now things are settled and my experiments are going well so far. After this 4 week experiment, fingers crossed that we see some fractionation!

 

 

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