Travels with my grant – Isaac Kramer

01 November 2017 - By: Isaac Kramer

Travels with my grant – Isaac Kramer

Isaac ventured to the Namib Desert to take part in a field research workshop entitled Biophysical Filed Methods at Gobabeb Research and Training Centre in Namibia.

At Gobabeb, I examined how biophysical concepts, principles and techniques allow us to gain insight into the behaviour and survival strategies of plants and animals in this region. This was a very exciting opportunity for me because it allowed me to connect the focus of my current research – physics and atmospheric sciences – with biological processes.

For my M.Sc. research most of my work is focused on modelling – I have modelled the radiation balance inside a water harvesting system, with the end goal of optimizing the system’s ability to retain water. Through this work, I have gained experience studying and measuring meteorological processes. But until now, my research has not included biological components.

The highlight of my research in the Namib Desert was working on a project to analyze barking gecko activity levels. The barking geckos, endemic to southern Africa, are nocturnal and known for the vocalizations (i.e. barks) that they emit from their burrows in early evening. Our project sought to examine how climate conditions, such as temperature and atmospheric moisture content might influence their activity levels. We used microphones to record their calls over the course of several days and then tried to correlate this data with ambient meteorological conditions.

The trip was a great opportunity for me to engage in research outside the bounds of my thesis project. I gained a lot of experience designing experiments, thinking about how to collect data, and analyzing results. I particularly enjoyed the chance to learn how to analyze sound files – for our project on barking gecko activity – using the Python and R programming languages.
As I move towards my PhD research, it was valuable to have the opportunity to spend more time in the field and to further develop my ability to consider problems scientifically.


Category: grants