’Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’
- Helen Keller
Finding answers to scientific questions often involves conducting experiments. In environmental sciences, sampling sizes are seldom small and the practical work to be done in the field, greenhouses or laboratory is usually time consuming and demanding. As a research assistant, I support PhD students and postdocs in setting up and carrying out scientific experiments and arrange (part of the) logistics behind fieldwork. In practice this means I help placing en sampling pyramid insect traps, do vegetation surveys, take soil samples, assist in nutrient analysis in the lab, plant tiny plants in trays, interview people about agricultural practices, place orderings for consumables and many more things... Moreover I am involved in education and help BSc- and MSc-students to become familiar with processing and analysing data in Excel and SPSS, learn them how to do vegetation surveys and take soil samples and how they can ‘read’ the environment by simply observing what’s around them.
Before I came to Wageningen University, I worked as research assistant at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). There I was in charge of maintaining a collection of methane-oxidizing bacteria that have their natural habitat in among others wetland ecosystems and studied the microbiome of zoo- and phytoplankton as part of the MicroZoo-project. Later on, I shifted subject and specialized on the chemical analysis of soil, sediment and plant material using the auto-analyser (NO2/NO3, NH4, PO4), element analyser (C and N), ICP-OES (various bio-available elements) and TOC-analyser (TC, IC, NPOC, TN).
On ocassion, I help colleagues from the NIOO-Animal Ecology department with their fieldwork on the long term population study on Great tits (Parus major).