I am on sabbatical this semester, which means I am trying to avoid my office as much as possible and catch up on some things that have passed me by since I started at Michigan Tech 7 years ago (how did that happen?). My big goal is to learn and apply the modeling techniques that have evolved rapidly for ecosystem metabolism, and how to implement them in R – and most importantly, to embrace R for all sorts of data and statistical analysis and graphing…basically, to shed my identity as a SAS dinosaur….
— Amy Marcarelli (@AmyMarcarelli) September 9, 2016
To do this, I started this summer self-studying from the Use R! series of books, and taking an R programming MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offered through John’s Hopkins U – which was another adventure that I may post about a different time. Now, I’m hiding in Laramie, WY, modeling metabolism for some of my datasets of various ages and for various projects, and exploring the different approaches to learn which work in which settings. First up – data collected from Horonai Stream in Japan, collected during my post-doc. Better late than never, right?
What does all of this have to do with N cycling and the ongoing NSF CAREER project? Well, first, energy availability is a key limiting factor for N fixation, because the process is so energy intensive – and for free-living fixers in aquatic systems, understanding productivity may be key for understanding where and when N fixation can happen. Second, we are interested in modeling N2 flux in streams, following approaches developed by our colleagues at University of Wyoming, which takes a very similar approach to metabolism modeling. Finally, learning the R tools for manipulating and modeling the data that are part of these analytical approaches should benefit all of my research…and help me communicate with and advise my students, who essentially speak a different language than me when it comes to analysis and graphing – they aren’t dinosaurs, and I don’t want to be either.