Individual exercises to help test your understanding and knowledge of key areas of text. Complete them to see your strengths and weaknesses.
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Exploring the laboratories on your campus or in your department.
If your campus/department has research laboratories:
- What is the range of different laboratories across your campus that are doing ‘geographic’ research? How do the laboratories differ in terms of the samples they process and the equipment they support?
- For any one laboratory, what samples are processed? How are they collected? What considerations are required in the field in order to have appropriate samples in the lab? How are the samples stored and archived?
- What laboratory instruments are in the laboratory? Make a list of the instruments available. What are the instruments used for? What is their accuracy? How are they calibrated? Are any unique to the campus?
- What are the safety procedures established for the laboratory? What specific safety equipment is in place? Are there wastes generated? How are they removed?
- If possible, determine whether you can run a few samples through the lab. Perhaps the laboratory has some spare samples. If not, how would you collect samples? What equipment would you need to be trained for? What results would you expect (generate hypotheses prior to running your samples).
If you do not have access to a laboratory:
- What administrative unit on your campus has oversight of laboratories on your campus? If you wanted to build a new laboratory, what steps would you need to go through? Who would you contact and what safety regulations would you need to be aware of?
- Imagine you were to set up a lab. Identify a sub-field of geography that would require laboratory facilities (e.g. hydrology, geomorphology, dendrology, palynology, soils). Select one field and do the research to build a simple lab with the minimum equipment. What equipment you would need to purchase? Where is it available and what would it cost? How much space would you need? What infrastructure would need to be in place (e.g. water, gas, ventilation, fume hood, chemical resistant bench)?
Most universities have a website dedicated to safe laboratory procedures (see http://www.bu.edu/ehs/plans/management-plans/laboratory-safety/sops/ for an example). Explore the site at your own school and see if you can find examples of specific procedures at your campus noted in this chapter.