2nd semester


Month 1: (October 2023) – Extensive research in the field of bioinformatics, related to the outcome of the crash course attended at the end of September 2023, particularly in the direction of HPC (High Performance Computing) metagenomic tools implementation and compatibility. 

Month 2: (November 2023) – Obtained access to the University of Innsbruck’s HPC resources. Started testing different bioinformatic tools and pipelines, in light of the newly gained computational resources, to optimize processing speed and especially output quality. As anticipated in the previous report, preliminary data on cryoconite communities time series is available for processing and analyses. Started a biostatistics course ecology-oriented to gain deeper methodological knowledge to be implemented in the future paper. Collected air samples from the Stubai Glacier to test extraction efficiency. 

Month 3: (December 2023) – Preliminary data briefly presented during midterm check. First extractions on test samples reveal very low DNA contents. Continuous research on bioinformatics and biostatistics. 

Month 4: (January 2024) – More DNA extractions, various protocol modifications to maximize DNA retrieval. Continuous research on bioinformatics and biostatistics. Different assembly and binning testing. 

Month 5: (February 2024) – High school outreach activity in Novara, Italy. Second ICEBIO meeting in Grenoble, France. Continuous research on bioinformatics and biostatistics. 

Month 6: (March 2024) – Reshaping of research question #1 hypotheses in light of new inputs during the Grenoble meeting and consistently low DNA in air samples.



Month 7 (November): In November, I attended the International Glaciology Society Nordic Branch conference in Finland, which was held at Aalto University. At the conference I presented a poster about the IceBio network and the research ideas for my project. In the lab, I finalized the methods for (inorganic) P and Si analysis with the Gallery Analyzer.

Month 8: In December, I continued to test the methods for my nutrient analysis and completed the methods for measuring inorganic N and Fe species with the Gallery Analyzer. I also tested methods for measuring the total P, N, Si and Fe concentration in a sample, from which I can later calculate the organic nutrient content.

Month 9: In January, I started testing my methods on the first sediment sample from Greenland, which was collected in 2022. I measured the nutrient content (inorganic P, Si, N and Fe concentrations) of the water above the sediment in the sample jar and the pore water that I extracted from the sediment using Rhizon samplers. In the middle of the months I participated in the first part of the PhD course "Scientific Teaching" at Aarhus University in Aarhus. At the end of the months, I attended the annual science meeting of the Deep Purple project, where I presented my project and received valuable input from colleagues working with similar research topics and methods.

Month 10: In February, I continued the work with the Greenland sample and measured the total P, Si, N and Fe concentration of the overlaying and pore water. I also worked on the second part of the PhD course "Scientific Teaching". At the end of the month, I went to Grenoble for the second IceBio network event, where we learned about omics and about sampling and experimental design.

Month 11: In March, I tested extraction methods on the Greenland sample to measure the concentrations of P, Si, N and Fe species bound in the sediment. I spent the last two weeks of the month at the GFZ in Potsdam to learn different mineralogical techniques that will be useful for further analysis of my sediment and rock samples.

Month 12: In April, I continued to work on finalizing the extraction methods. I also spent a lot of time this month preparing for the field work. We had several organizational meetings, and I had to order, wash and pack the equipment I would need in the field. I also took part in riffle training and a first aid course, both of which are required for fieldwork in Greenland.