Abby & McConehenge

McConehenge

On March 11 (yes, I’m that far behind!) Abby took our lab meeting on the road and gave us a tour of her work on the geology interpretive displays at McCone Hall, including the infamous McConehenge (which, unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of — you’ll have to go to the “front yard” of McCone Hall and check it out for yourself). This has been a semester-long labor of love (and sweat) on Abby’s part (she worked with Nick Swanson-Hysell on this, of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science), and the results show it! Probably best lab meeting ever.

 

Abby by the core McCone Henge interpretive display–the stations described on the sign correspond to each of the boulders comprising the henge–see the map in the top-left corner.
There are also a series of indoor display cabinets with cool rocks and minerals, which Abby worked on.
Calcite colored by geothite.
Rhodochrosite and malachite with azurite.
Rosasite on geothite with calcite.
Calcite (paramorphic after aragonite).
Cool gypsums.
Benitoite with neptunite, in natrolite.
Tourmaline with rubellite.

 

 

Joyce’s Finishing Talk

Joyce and the Lianas, to a sold-out show!

Joyce gave her finishing talk, and, as expected, hit it out of the park. Congratulations Joyce!!! The rlab is very proud! A few photos follow, of the action and the subsequent celebrations. If you WANT TO SEE HER TALK FOR YOURSELF, it is HERE.

My valiant attempts to slightly embarrass Joyce in the introduction

 

Opening act over, let the show begin!

 

The cutest of acknowledgements (top right)

 

Carrie outdid herself again — look at that vascular cambial variant cake! And it was delicious.

 

Cutting the cake

 

Paul (or Paula?), Joyce’s new houseplant

 

Champagne, in all its slow-motion glory!

 

 

 

Taxonomist Appreciation Day!

Taxonomist appreciation, in verse

So apparently today is Taxonomist Appreciation Day, huzzah! And on this momentous occasion, the following verse crossed my edesk, courtesy of Fredrick Schueler:

If it wasn’t for the namers what would we do,
We wouldn’t have names both short and true,
We couldn’t specify a creature in a word or two,
If it wasn’t for the work of the namers.

If it wasn’t for the namers you’d just shrug
and call every crawling thing a bug.
Nothing makes a person a more perfect mug
than to disregard the work of the namers.*

If it wasn’t for the namers where would we be,
We wouldn’t have synonymy,
Each would use his favourite name and all would disagree,
If it wasn’t for the work of the namers.

If it wasn’t for the namers we wouldn’t know,
To regard Sorex as a Shrew,
We wouldn’t know cinereus from fumeus and you,
Would simply scream “A shrewmouse there, step on it!”

If it wasn’t for the namers where’d we begin
to know who was kith and kin?
There would be no way to know which clade we’re in
if it wasn’t for the work of the namers.*

If it wasn’t for the namers what would we do,
We wouldn’t have names both short and true,
We couldn’t specify a creature in a word or two,
If it wasn’t for the work of the namers.

*’d verses, June 2013, Gagetown bioblitz. – https://bioblitznb.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/a-poem-by-fred-schueler/comment-page-1/

On the way back from Wawa, Ontario (6 October 2000 – the day we drove for 20 hrs) – to the tune of “If it was na’for the wark o’ the weavers. – to the tune of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix_fIy5zgv0&fbclid=IwAR0iiTXIRKe86TuJvpohFfNvKLkjQ15vsiX5llL2LLPl09omzY7lThnWaFU

 

 

 

Paleo Valentines

How to express enduring love?

With paleo valentines! These gems (and their captions) are courtesy of Allie Weill — thank you Allie!! If you’re impressed, you get more Allie content on instagram (@al.m.weill) and the twitter (@Al_R_Wallace).

This valentine features Lepidodendron, a big fossil tree that could grow to 100 feet tall. Lepidodendron is classified in division Lycopodiophyta, the group that includes modern day club mosses and quillworts, one of the earliest branching off groups off vascular plants. Lycopods were much more diverse in the Carboniferous, when Lepidodendron lived, forming vast forests. The background of the valentine shows the distinctive leaf scars that covered the bark of these trees, while we see an illustration of what the full tree may have looked like in the foreground.

 

This valentine features a pith cast (infill of the center of the stem) of Calamites, a Carboniferous tree-sized relative of modern horsetails. Like the lycopods, the sphenopsids (horsetails and their relatives) were much more diverse historically than they are today, with sphenopsid trees common in Carboniferous forests.

 

This valentine features a close up of the structure and an illustration of Prototaxites, one of the most mysterious of fossils. It formed huge trunk-like structures and lived mostly in the Devonian period (~420-360 mya). Because of hyphae-like structures in the fossil, as well as isotopic evidence, it is widely considered to be an enormous fungus, perhaps even a lichen, but there are other theories.

 

This valentine features the stele (the primary vascular tissue and supporting pith) of an ancient fern called Ankyropteris, which lived in the Carboniferous period (~360-300 mya). During this time we get exceptional preservation of cellular structure in coal balls, a type of fossilization enabled by the coal swamps of the era. Many plants of this time can be identified by the unique shapes of their steles, and ferns have some strange ones, like this H-shaped stele.

 

 

Jonathan Brings the Polystichum to PLANTS!

munitum, imbricans, dudleyi, and californicum, oh my

Jonathan took the reins for last week’s PLANTS! seminar and gave a compelling tour of the glory and mystery of reticulating Polystichum. Killer synapomorphies for Polystichum imbricans subspecies curtum remain elusive, however.

 

My study organisms are huge!

 

Just look at how much fun ferns are. Polystichum in particular.

 

Rothfels lab poet laureate

Ode to a Fern Foray

While botanists sit at home and reckon,
Far-flung Fijian forests beckon.
From far-afield a Fern man came,
Despite some age he still was Game.

With Sarah’s help rare ferns he sought,
About their Latin names he taught.
Up muddy paths, down streams they walked,
Of family and genus talked.

On highest peak, by every creek,
New species did they ever seek.
Ferns, lycophytes, more did abound,
With rarest ones still yet unfound.

Bright dragonflies did also gleam
in forest glades, by every stream.
Good natured Milen these did chase,
He cast his net with every pace.

Deep focus on the task at hand,
And bonding with the happy band,
Pushed cares away and made for play
On every happy ferny day.

If distant age brings feelings sad,
Fern memories may yet be glad,
And now far islands call us back,
To seek those ferns that yet we lack.

When long from now our time has been,
Ferns shall remain forever green –
And if one day the world should warm,
Bright ferns will weather every storm.

 

  —John Game, December 2018.

 

Lab photo fall 2018

Look’n Good in 2018

Time for the annual Rothfels lab photo! Rothfels lab-photo? Rothfels-lab photo? Rothfels lab lab photo?

This is us! Fall 2018. Late October is totally fall. From L to R: Keir Wefferling, Jonathan Qu, Forrest Freund, Carrie Tribble, Abby Jackson-Gain, Athyrium filix-femina, Mick Song, Sonia Nosratinia, Carl Rothfels, Dori Contreras, Maryam Sedaghatpour, and Joyce Chery. Missing (also L to R): Alan Smith, John Game, and Sraavya Sambara.

 

This is also us, looking modestly more serious.

 

 

 

Be a Scientist!

Be a Scientist

A special edition Keir Wefferling guest post

I have been really enjoying working with “my” 7th-graders over the last few weeks as we explore what it means to be a scientist! The “Be A Scientist” program is organized by Berkeley-based Community Resources for Science, who partner with Berkeley Public Schools to bring local volunteer scientists (students, postdocs, faculty) to the classroom for a 6-week start-to-finish science project. We guide the 7th-graders in formulating their questions and hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting data, and interpreting and presenting their results. This has been an amazing and fast-paced experience to see how the different students each approach questions and problems. They are incredibly quick to adapt to changing plans and to accept unforeseen results. I am learning a lot, both about what gets them excited and about how they ask questions about the world around them. Slimy, gooey science!
Working in a public school in Berkeley is exciting on many levels; it brings me out of my specialized sub-field (plant cytology, biogeography, and systematics) and gives me the opportunity to communicate about the scientific process to a diverse group of citizens in their formative years. My hope is that my enthusiasm for my research with plants—and for science more broadly—will make a lasting impression on the students and show them that science (as well as math, careful planning, researching an idea and following through with the investigative process…) can be fun and satisfying. Of course, the scientific process can be messy at times, and a “failed” experiment will often teach us more than we expect. I am very grateful for this experience that is bringing me in contact with some interesting and bright young people. Their curiosity, insightful questions, and flexibility has certainly made an impression on me!
I am looking rather amazed by a coil of pipe-cleaner presented by J., as A. prepares her wicks for growing salt crystals. Photo by Tyler Chuck, CRS.
Darlene, Project Coordinator for Community Resources for Science, has been in the classroom every week, helping students set up their experiments and providing support for the mentors. Photo by Tyler Chuck, CRS.