I arrived in Canberra a bit over a week ago, and have finally adjusted to both the time change, and the chilly June mornings. Australian National University is located in the Acton suburb, about a 25 minute walk from where I am staying in the O'Connor suburb. The labs and facilities in the Research School of Biology are impressive: multiple glasshouse facilities, an airplane hanger full of growth chambers (or it seemed that way), and every piece of equipment one could use to measure a plant. The Atkin Lab at ANU shares a large lab and office space with the lab of Marilyn Ball, and I've enjoyed getting to know many people over meetings, lunches and the occasional Torres Strait Islander dance performance at Union Court.
Prior to shipping off to Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, NY, I need to train myself on familiar (Li-Cor 6400) and unfamiliar (WALZ peltier controlled chambers) equipment. The past few days in the lab consisted of a lot of COM-port locating and assigning, button pushing, and leaf-clipping. I've received invaluable help from Jack Egerton, who knows the ins-and-outs of all the machines (his hands below adjusting a thermocouple).
The next week or so will consist of plenty planning - both in terms of straight logistics (packing, shipping, receiving, airfare booking, ordering supplies), as well as research design (what and where to measure leaves, how to assemble data into a larger framework). After months, nay a year, of writing up data I collected at Toolik Lake, and creating figures, tables, and interpreting results, I am reminded of how detailed and sometimes tedious collecting raw data from the field can be. COM port fidgeting and "matching" the 6400 is quickly forgotten (for the better) during data analysis, interpretation, and later write up, but all those tedious elements feed into the larger experiment...and I can't delegate it all to a grad student just yet.