Settling in at TBI
So I’ve been here at TBI for a couple of days now and its starting to feel like home. I think we’ve gotten into a proper rhythm of things, classes, meals etc. The first night here was confusing, it was very dark despite the waxing moon and some cabins and trees that seemed useful landmarks in the day had faded into the gloom while peripheral buildings that had gone unnoticed during the day had lights on. The effect was disorienting, and noone had a flashlight strong enough to illuminate the whole way from one building to the next, meaning that those of us congregated in the classroom and computer lab had no idea which way to turn to get to bed. Now, just 4 days later, we could all probably navigate between the buildings blindfolded if it weren’t for the presence of brambles and the fear of scorpions. Of course the nights are also brighter now, the moon is nearly full and at night the moonbeams make the pale tan sand glow silver except in the shadows of the buildings and the acacia trees.
The first class we’re taking is African Ecology with professor Dino (That’s Dee-no, not Die-no) Martins. He takes us out into the field as often as possible, we spent the last few days doing transects and counting seed pods on spiny Indigofera shrubs, comparing the health of plants inside the fenced compound of TBI and outside the fence, where goats and camels are. The difference in the health of the vegetation is quite stark, and while I had been aware of the threat of unsustainable overgrazing in a general sense, it was another thing entirely to witness the environmental impacts of overgrazing firsthand.
With the first week of classes almost done we’ve started to spend time planning and outlining methods for the “independent” research projects we will be doing for Dr. Matin’s class. I put independent in quotes because while each of us will be testing a hypothesis and presenting our findings solo, we have divided into small groups for the purpose of data collection. Meagan, Lyanna and Nat will be collecting mosquito data with me and we will each try to test our own hypothesis from the data we have jointly collected. I spent the afternoon doing background readings on mosquito behavior for my project which will concern the hypothesis that different ratios of mosquito species will be found inside and outside human habitations. While it is known that Malaria, Dengue, and Yellow fever are present in the area around Lodwar and Turkana, very little research has actually been done on the disease vectors in this part of Kenya. We’ll be collecting our first data tomorrow after a day trip to look at how insect communities have been affected in an area that recently experienced rainfall.
Next post will probably be in a few days, and will cover the trip from New York to Turkana.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.