Blog Post 6/26

This week I began to work full time. Sadly, my adviser was out sick for the entire week, so I continued to check the images that have been processed by P-TRAP. Overall, this week was an enjoyable working experience. I was able to listen to a podcast while I worked, and the building has good AC. In addition, everyone here is very nice and friendly. Interestingly, Filipinos take numerous snack and coffee breaks throughout the day. Coffee and snacks is served at around 930 or 10, lunch is normally at noon, then at around 4/5 they break for an afternoon snack. They even have a table in the center of where most of them work dedicated to snacks and drinks. I tried a fried banana which was very good. Towards the end of the week, I finished processing the images and was able to move to the next phase of analysis which involved using R to create three different graphical models of the data.

Histogram Source:
Correlation Plot Source:
Biplot Source:

These three different models each have unique uses in analyzing the data gleamed from the rice data. Again sadly, I cannot share my own pretty models. The histogram is useful for seeing how close the data is to a normal distribution (a bell curve) and any outliers. The correlation plot measures the correlation between variable. A strong positive correlation indicates that as one variable increases, the other also increases. A strong negative correlation indicates that as one variable increases, the other decreases. A weak correlation indicates that values move independently of each other. Finally, the biplot shows how closely related analyzed individuals are. It does this through a principal component analysis which simplifies all the variables analyzed into as few variables as possible, called principal components. The straight lines represent the original variables while the dots represent the analyzed individuals.

That weekend, I and the other Wesleyan students along with the Indian students were invited to an adviser’s home for dinner. There we introduced the Indian students to the card game Cards Against Humanity, and they introduced us to some of their popular music. The food I had there was very good, but definitely different from what I normally have in the states.

Week 1 Blog for 6/19

This week I have more to report.
Despite some delays with my ID card, I was able to start working this week on Tuesday. I began learning the R programming language and I began to work with P-TRAP, a computer software program which helps a user classify rice panicle structure and count the number of rice granules.

credit: AL-Tam, F., Adam, H., Anjos, A.d. et al. P-TRAP: a Panicle Trait Phenotyping tool. BMC Plant Biol 13, 122 (2013).

Above is an example of the analyzing structure part of my job. I am not allowed to share the results I have worked with so far, but above is an example from the paper originally describing the function of this software. The software is not that good at developing the above structure on its own, so my job is to fix it.

On Friday, IRRI had a day in the field for all the student workers. The Illinois Wesleyan Students, along with some students from India, were able to be rice farmers for the day. We got to use both traditional and mechanized ways of planting rice, even using an ox to plow a rice field. We also practiced different methods of planting rice, including planting by hand and machine. Also, I learned that around 70% of Filipino rice is still planted by hand, but mechanization is being slowly adopted. I am still waiting on getting some photos back from IRRI, but once they are here, I will upload them to my blog.

After the rice picking, Froilan, the main person at IRRI who has helped us get settled, offered to take us on a tour of Los Banos. He showed us parts of the campus, The Philippines’s largest lake, and brought us to a dairy shop where I tried carabao milk, a cow native to the Philippines and the same kind used to plow Filipino rice fields. It tasted like slightly bitter whole milk. Finally, our group had Buko pie, a coconut based pie that tasted very good.

Finally, on Saturday, some of the other Wesleyan students and I decided to go on a hike partially up a nearby mountain to see a mud spring. We left early in the morning and walked by a bazaar, a group of outdoor shops that sell food. They had lots of different options of food, and music was being played on a speaker. We then worked our way through town towards the entrance of the trail. Once we were there, we had to check in, then begin our climb. During our climb, we saw many cyclists, and people enjoying the trail. It was a steep hike, especially for someone used to the Midwest. The trail was paved, really a narrow road. There were even motorbikes and a few cars driving on the trail. As we approached our destination, we were surprised to find a few snack/touristy shops that was relatively busy. Shortly afterwards, we finally reached our destination: the mud spring.

From the mud spring there a slight smell of sulfur, and you could see some plants have died from being too close to the boiling mud. There was a barbed fence that surrounded the pit with signs warning of severe injury if you touched the mud. We then returned to campus and picked up McDonald’s on the way back.

Blog Post Number 1 6/13/22

Travelling and Quarantining

This first blog post will most likely be shorter than my future posts. We flew from O’hare to Doha, 8 hour layover, then a flight to Manilla. Much of the time on the plane was spent either sleeping or watching shows. The Doha airport was big and had interesting architecture. Also it was interesting many ads featured soccer players similar to how adds in the United States will feature football or basketball players. Then once we landed we were dropped off at IRRI to sleep. The next day we began an orientation to learn some Filipino phrases and etiquette and ended the day by going to a buffet with good food including chicken adobe.

Then the IRRI people split off from the rest of the group and began a week long quarantine. Not much happened during this time. We did go shopping twice at the southern mall/grocery store. In many ways it was similar to an American grocery store but with some minor differences. Snacks were divided into imported and local, milk was not refrigerated, and guards would check your receipt before you left. In addition, before you entered the shopping area there were a couple of small food/snack places. There I tried a shawarma place and a seasoned French fry place, both of which were tasty. Besides shopping, during my quarantine I was given some readings relating to what I will be doing during my internship. Once my internship starts, I will get into more detail about what I’m doing. Today (Monday), was supposed to be my first day, but due to delays and miscommunications I was unable to start working, but I did move out of my quarantine dorm into my dorm for the next two months. Tomorrow I finally get to start my internship which I am excited for.

Welcome to Garrit’s Philippines Blog

Here is my blog that I will update during my journey as an intern at the International Rice Research Institute. Thanks to the Freeman Asia for making this possible. There will be weekly updates.