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June 20, 2008 / calebdresser

science…. what?

Getting my project up and running here is an unbeleivably slow process, but I should probably at least mention what I’m doing. I’m trying to implement a three-pronged approach, consisting of plant bioassays, in-field root galling indicies, and extraction and identification of nematodes from soil samples. Each of these three provides a different window on the activity and populations levels of the plant-parasitic nematodes I am studying. My current plan is to sample each index at transplanting time, during the growing season, and at harvest. I will be doing this in 21 plots representing three replications of a seven trial long-term experiment on tillage practices in rice. In addition, I will further sample the three treatments in the cover crop experiment here, each of which also has three replicates. Thats the plan…

Soil samples drying near the long-term experimental plots

The reality is that getting anything accomplished on my project is maddeningly difficult. There is a huge language barrier; while the science staff here does speak English, it is a strain, and normal lab conversation is in Hindi, so I can’t pick up any information unless I ask or someone specifically decides to tell me. I’m also not really the driving force – I don’t know the system here, and so when I need supplies or want to do something, I have to ask someone else to arrange it through the appropriate channels. This will no doubt decrease as I learn culture, langage, and local geography, but right now I’m singularly ineffective on my own. As I write I’m waiting on someone to show me where to get tubing for soil samples (we were meant to go today but it’ll have to be tomorrow), I’m waiting for people to arrange for a nematologist to visit, I’m waiting for a certain field to be irrigated, I’m waiting for sieving apparatus to be located and ordered, I’m waiting… After Cornell expecting me to be so self-directed, all this patronage and patience is grating on the spirit. I want off the leash, but its really a web woven of culture, and I’ll have to learn its geography rather than fight it if I’m going to get anything done here. Time here is measured with a very elastic ruler, which can be relaxing – but not when you want to accomplish something! I know thats a first-world, cold-climate attitude in a warm, humid developing nation, but them’s the facts. All in all, it can get frustrating, although the slow pace has done wonders for my Hindi. I sometimes have an entire afternoon to spend practicing at my desk, often with help from friends in the lab.



Leave a Comment
  1. bengolas / Jun 21 2008 7:30 am

    Yeah… Just because they can speak English doesn’t mean they will. I have the same trouble here, and am very slowly picking up on a few words. It’s difficult having to rely wholly on others for your work.

  2. Peter / Jun 25 2008 7:23 pm

    Patience is a great virtue!! Relax and go with the flow since you can’t speed it up. Now you know why I needed 30 years in the region to make any impact. And why 3-year projects are a farce. Glad all is going well. Great to read your blog.

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