Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Finally Finished by Lucy Laws

I have now spent 15 weeks in Costa Rica and my time here has come full circle as I end right where I began at La Selva Research Station.  It is unbelievable to think back to the beginning when I felt so accomplished after having finished the week of faculty led projects, but now I sit here and realize that I feel even more accomplished because I just got through my independent project. 
First of all, this time at La Selva was much different as compared to the last time we were here.  There was no sitting in the classroom all day getting lectures about tropical diseases.  And yet, there also were not as many spontaneous walking adventures through the jungle, which may be attributed to the fact that it has been extremely hot and humid, but–for now–I’ll say it was because we didn’t have as much free time. This time at La Selva, my group and I dedicated all of our time to testing three species of plants to see how well their effectiveness at removing bacteria was compared to the effectiveness of water and bar soap. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any statistically significant results, but on the bright side we at least taught everyone how to properly wash their hands!
"Soap group" identifying bacteria under the microscope. (Photo courtesy of  Julia Erskine)
            I must admit that I really enjoyed working with my group to develop our own project and then execute it.  I can’t believe how much I learned including: how to pour agar, how to identify bacteria, how to wash my hands, and how the average person has quite a bit of Staphylococcus present on their hands even after they wash them.  It’s honestly fascinating. I also can’t believe that we presented all of our findings completely in Spanish. At the beginning of the semester, I would never have thought that I would ever be able to type up my research findings in Spanish and then speak about them, also in Spanish, especially considering how difficult it is for me to present in English.  But I did it! Even though it was frustrating at times, I did it and the best part was how proud my group members were.

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