Celebrate the victories!

I feel absolutely exhausted today – but in a good way!

We harvested an experiment that my team has worked on over the past months.

Our plants inside one of our four climate chambers at TUMmesa

Our abiotic treatments included a soil moisture gradient and an heatwave. To maintain the moisture gradient our plants were watered on a balance every day. All 320 of them. We specifically tested how climatic conditions would impact interactions between aphids, plants and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria. These rhizobacteria boost plant growth, increase stress resilience, and often suppress insect herbivores, including aphids. We tested whether these beneficial organisms could help plants better withstand extreme climatic events, and how rhizobacterial inoculation and climatic events would interactively influence aphids that subsequently colonized the experimental plants.  

Our boss Oriana counting her aphids

All of these experimental procedures had to be carefully implemented and repeated across multiple experimental runs.

The whole experiment has been led by a PhD researcher in my team, Oriana, who will use the data to write the final chapter of her PhD dissertation. She did great!

It was a pretty intense period, but all this hard work culminated in a pretty neat dataset.

Oriana learned a lot*. I learned a lot**. We had a lot of fun with the team.

Exhausted, but worth it!

The team (Zoë, Oriana, Sarah, and my hand) celebrated the victory with some German bakery goodies brought by Oriana. I could do this every Saturday (but I won’t).

——————————————————————————————————————* Obviously, you learn about your model system all the time and every time, but over the course of this experiment I saw a lot of growth in confidence. Before the onset of the experiment, I was the one suggesting how we could do things. Today, Oriana called the shots and was telling me what to do and how to do it. A fantastic thing to see as her daily (co-)supervisor.
** I’m relatively new to this supervision thing. I have supervised a few master students during my PhD, but nothing to write home about. In my current position, I have been thrown into the deep… I’m all of a sudden running a whole team of people including several PhDs, a technician and assistants. I have no clue what I’m doing, but I try my best. Still waiting for the day they figure out that they hired an imposter…

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of one but almost two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

3 thoughts on “Celebrate the victories!

    1. That makes two of us! The data are rather clean and the design straightforward. I also noticed that Oriana already wrote a very decent introduction to the experiment, so it should not take too long before we can submit this at least.

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