Thinking Like a Scientist, Exploring Like a Tourist

 

My liking for the people, the work and the place grows more and more every day. The people here at work in the Entomology lab are the most fabulous people I know, work-wise and personality-wise.  While I am offered some intense insight into their world of research I am also being pampered and loved as the ‘youngest’ one in the Entomology division. They guide and encourage me professionally and academically. They feed me selflessly….abundant amounts of food because ‘I am the youngest and I am still growing’. They are just the sweetest people who have helped me grow professionally and have helped me appreciate the humility of Asian culture.

At the beginning of the week I proposed my idea for my own little independent project or experiment. I received nothing but positive encouragement and support. My mentor, Tita Bong does whatever possible (preparing and requesting for materials, advising on techniques to follow, organizing, etc) to make my experiment successful and Dr. Buyung, my supervisor delivers his best advice and suggestions for my experiment to take correct form. My supervisors are always there to answer my questions and fulfill my requests or interests related to work.

Getting to do my own experiment or project is the reason why I fell like a scientist at work. Inspired from the studies that I have been assisting in, my experiment is testing the preference of Oligosita parasitoids towards the four flowering plants that they have been researching here at the lab. I am using the flowers of okra, cucumber, mung beans and string beans to see if their presence around the rice plant increases the likeliness of parasitism of Brown Plant Hopper eggs by Oligosita. In other words, this will help me figure out if the parasitoids choose the rice plant that has flowers or the one that doesn’t. The presence of these flowering plants, that actually serve as a source of food the farmers too, can boost the rice ecosystem by helping to increase natural enemies of rice pest like Oligosita. biological control of pest is the best way to go instead of using more pesticides. So if these plants are prove to be very successful in attracting more parasitois and predators of rice pest, then it would be a great way to promote sustainable rice farming. that is the main idea of the projects and experiments currently being done by ‘tita’ Bong at entomology lab here at IRRI. My experiment explored a tiny portion of the project. I have already finished the set-up and most methodology part with the help of ‘tita’ bong and ‘aate’ Wheng. Hopefully I get good data as I patiently wait for the results and observations of parasitism.

Exploring Los Banos and nearby cities:

This weekend was more of a local travel. I made another trip to the SM Calamba mall with my friends (typical Ojaswee :D). I tried a Japanese noodles that had these cute looking fish cakes. they were named ‘Kung-fu Panda’ fish cakes (pictured above)! And then I went to explore the open fresh produce market. The local fresh produce market was another thing that brought memories back: tiny little passageways to go from one section to the other, the smell of fresh raw fish infused in the air and piles of fruit and vegetable varieties in one stand. Almost similar to Nepal, it was basically a setup of numerous vegetable, fruits and meat vendors all in one area, everyone competing to sell the same products as their neighbors right next to them. Most importantly the fresh produce were heartwarming-ly cheap as back home in Nepal and unlike the US. More seriously, places like these always remind me of the perseverance and determination of the vendors, young and old, to keep their businesses alive and to deliver the best they can.

So, it was another very successful week. Now, I am three weeks closer to leaving this place and that is the sad part. Let’s see how eventful my upcoming weeks will be.

‘Salamat po’ (Thank you!) for reading my post! ‘Kita Kits’ (See you!) until next time.

 

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