As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am working with a research lab in the Earth and Environmental Science department at Michigan. The lab I am working with is an economic geology lab focusing on apatite samples and the rare earth element composition of these samples.
My first week working with them, I had the opportunity to travel with my mentor to Windsor, Canada to use a piece of equipment called a Laser Ablation ICP-MS machine. This machine fires lasers into a sample of rock at spots that you specify ahead of time. While firing, the machine gathers data on the major element composition and trace element composition.
The data we gathered during this trip was supposed to be the data I worked with all summer, but the data ended up being incomplete and inaccurate due to incorrect settings on the machine. This was very frustrating considering how much time we spent gathering the data, but that is a lesson you learn while doing research. That things don’t always work, and that it is okay to fail.
Despite our data being unusable, the trip was a great experience! I had the experience to see what real economic geology research looks like, learn how a state of the art machine works, and talk to my mentor about her educational journey and how she ended up where she is today.
Overall, the research is going well and I am excited to see what the rest of the summer has in store!