Wow! Three weeks down, six weeks to go. After wrestling for many hours on some tricky calculations and staying up late to finish writing my lab procedure, I finally got my first round of microbes in the incubator! The problem was finding the correct water holding capacity for the three main compost types and because one of the composts can theoretically hold more water than its weight. The correct calculations become tricky and provided strange numbers, such as putting 5 liters of water into 200 grams of compost, when the jar itself can only hold 2 liters! This is the kind of problem they should have given us in algebra class. With the help of my two amazing mentors, Dr. Fierer and Dr. Choudoir, we got the calculations squared away and were able to get the inoculated samples into the wet compost and into the incubators by Thursday afternoon. Below you can see them incubating at 30° C. Within these jars there are three types of compost, each paired with whole community and spore enriched plates that were inoculated from a soil sample, as well as control jars that have no compost, just inoculated plates. Although its hard to tell, there is an empty petri dish that is keeping the microbes from physically touching the compost. In 5 days we will come back and check on their growth, check back here for the update!