Florence Schubotz 2008-07
Report of GLOMAR PhD student Florence Schubotz about her research stay at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from 7 July - 8 August 2008
Research visit in the lab of Dr. Christopher Reddy in WHOI by Florence Schubotz
During a previous (GLOMAR funded) 2 month research stay at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), USA in the lab of Dr. Christopher Reddy I had the opportunity to analyze my samples on a special instrument, called a two-dimensional gas chromatograph (GCxGC). The samples that I analyzed were recovered from a Meteor cruise in 2006 from the southern Gulf of Mexico. This instrument is particularly useful for my research because my samples have a highly complex oily matrix that cannot be resolved easily. With a GCxGC it is possible to gain up to an order of magnitude higher resolution compared to typical gas chromatographs. Furthermore you can compare and substract one chromatogram from another, creating “difference chromatograms” to see changes between samples on a molecular level. During my return visit to WHOI in summer 2008 this is exactly what I did. Besides generating colorful figures and nice plots, I was able to see in detail what the causes for the differences in asphalt composition were. Additionally, I was able to use the special software necessary for data processing. Luckily this time it was possible to take this software back to Bremen so I can now continue with the work in my home lab.
Furthermore, I combined my return visit to WHOI with a participation at an international conference, the Gordon Research Conference on Organic Geochemistry, which takes place in Holderness, USA every two years. I was particularly thrilled when I found out that my abstract was chosen to be presented as a talk. The Gordon Research Conference provides an excellent platform for scientific exchange on all levels. Since it is a rather small conference (100 to 200 abstracts), it is very easy to get in touch with renowned scientist and chat with them in a relaxed atmosphere. After my oral presentation I got very valuable feedback and new ideas for interpretation and further research. It was also nice to get to know other PhD students with similar projects and have fruitful discussions with them during the poster sessions.
In summary, my return visit to WHOI was very helpful for the continuation of my PhD project dealing with the biodegradation of heavy oil. Not only was I able to generate data which I needed for a more complete understanding of the system, but it was also good to discuss the results with my collaborators in the USA in person. The attendance of the Gordon Research Conference, accompanied by giving a talk, helped to elaborate my research and facilitated making contacts for my future scientific career. I would like to thank GLOMAR for offering such opportunities to me and also other PhD students.