As I’m writing this the rain is pouring down and I can hear the thunder soaring above the roof of my temporary office here in Ames, Iowa, USA. During my first weeks here the temperature has hardly gone below 28C, so the rain is most welcome – but I’m hoping for a pause soon so that I can bike home without getting soaked. The reason that I’m finding myself in the middle of a heat wave in the North American Midwest is due to the network of my supervisor, Catherine Legrand. Plus a generous travel grant from my research school Geneco at Lunds University. Thanks to them I got the opportunity to visit a research group, the Germs lab, short for – Genomics and Environmental Research in Microbial Systems, for a month and a half this fall. The group has been very welcoming and friendly, they have already provided a lot of very useful help and support for the analysis of my data. Even though I study interactions between algae and bacteria in the Baltic Sea, and the main focus of the Germs lab are bacteria living in soils, we still use similar methods to analyze our data – which makes it possible for us to collaborate.
The Germs lab are a part of Iowa State University, ISU, which is a rather large university with over 28’000 students – which make up approximately half of the population of Ames. The campus area is like a small town with stores, restaurants, a lot of green areas and trees, training facilities, art galleries, a library, a concert hall for classical music, a stage for dance performances and concerts, one stadium for American football and one for basketball – and oh yes, there is a botanical garden also. It could not be more different than what we have at LNU in Kalmar. One thing that is similar though is that Ames is still rather small and I have only a 10 minute bike ride to the office. Biking is not very common here, most people drive their cars wherever they go. The other day I even withdrew money from a drive through ATM, it looked like a gas station with cars lining up to use the machine. So far I’m really enjoying my stay here, it is a great opportunity for me to experience another culture and meet fellow PhD-students and scientists from distant parts of the world. It is really a melting pot of nationalities here – one thing that LNU have in common with ISU.
I think the rain has stopped for a while, I will have to hop on the bike while it lasts!
PhD-student in marine ecology, LNU