Saturday, 17 April 2010

S366: TMA-1

So - time for the first TMA. Its quite a long way into the course, so you have a lot of time to devote to it if you want - or alternatively to ignore it!
So whats in this TMA?

Well - first thing to say is its big! Its 12 pages long, and for 3 questions thats quite a lot.

The first question is all about phylogenies.
First you have to identify a range of features in a sample, preparatory to doing an analysis on it.
Next you have to look the cladogram of these species and pick out some features in it.
Then you have to indicate the most parsimonious transitions on the diagram, which means finding the transition points for the 10 different features being considered.
Then there is more commentary required on the shape of the cladogram, and what this says for the inter-relatedness of the species.
The next step is to input the characteristics into a program, and perform your own cladogramatic analysis.

The next question is about statistical analysis - and it brings in the home kit.
A while lot of work is required to analyse some given data, and relate it to the data you have worked out from the home kit. There is a log of statistical manipulation required here. None of it is hard, but one figure feeds into the next, and its easy to make a mistake - subtract rather than add, or pick the wrong figure to divide by.
A couple of graphs have to be drawn or amended, and then commentary has to be made on the results and what they show of the species and now they are related. Whether their growth patterns are similar. You also have to make some predictions on what this might mean if you found new samples.

Finally question 3, which is 10% of this, is a SWOT analysis of each of the potential projects that need to be undertaken for the next TMA. It also includes a risk analysis section, which I struggle to take seriously, but complete through gritted teeth!

The course team reckoned 5 hours to complete the TMA, I wouldn't like to think how long I spent on it though.
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Thursday, 15 April 2010

SXR375: Plants and Pigments

So yesterday a parcel arrived - it has in it the material for my next residential school coming up in July.
This is a 3rd level course investigating plants and pigments.

It arrives with
  • A folder
  • A folder insert
  • A course description
  • Some prereading material
  • A DVD
The school is all about analysis of plants and the way they use pigments to control their photosynthesis and manage energy and light issues. There is a computer marked multi choice paper that has to be done before hand (online) which you have to pass to complete the course.

Then there is the school itself, which includes presentation of results, and then a write up to do afterwards. Looks to be fun, and this time I have to take my own lab coat, so have ordered one.